There are more than two thousand residents living in the U.S. Virgin Islands who collect monthly disability payments from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Each year, more U.S. Virgin Islands residents will apply at their local Social Security offices in hopes of obtaining disability benefits that will alleviate the financial burdens caused by their inability to work. Unfortunately, the majority of these applications will be denied by the SSA.
The fact of the matter is that the SSA denies approximately 70 percent of the initial disability claims received each year. While the reasons for denial vary, the outcome is the same. The denial results in the need for a disability applicant to endure the lengthy and complicated appeal process in order to obtain the disability benefits they may be rightfully entitled to in the future.
For U.S. Virgin Islands Social Security Disability applicants who are appealing a denial of their initial disability claim, the first stage of the appeal process is called a Request for Reconsideration. Unfortunately, more than 80 percent of applicants will be denied at this stage of the disability claim process as well. In order for most U.S. Virgin Islands Social Security Disability applicants to win their disability case, they must request a hearing before an administrative law judge. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, it can take a disability applicant more than a year from the date of their hearing request to be scheduled for their day in court.
Many people wonder why it takes so long for a U.S. Virgin Islands Social Security Disability applicant to be scheduled for a hearing before an administrative law judge. The extensive wait times have to do with the backlog of disability appeals that are being processed by the SSA. The agency in charge of scheduling disability hearings is the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, also known as ODAR. The area that you live in determines which ODAR office manages your particular disability case and the backlog of that office is what determines how long you will have to wait to have your case heard before an administrative law judge.
The ODAR office responsible for scheduling disability hearings for U.S. Virgin Islands Social Security Disability applicants is located in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It takes this office an average of 395 days to schedule a hearing for U.S. Virgin Islands Social Security Disability applicants. Once the hearing has been conducted, it will take another 45 to 90 days for an applicant to be notified as to whether or not the case was decided in their favor.
Hiring a U.S. Virgin Islands Social Security Disability Attorney
The Social Security Disability claim process is anything but simple or quick. It takes, on average, three to four months for an applicant to complete the initial application stage of the disability claim process. The reconsideration request takes another three to four months to finish. By the time a hearing is requested, a U.S. Virgin Islands Social Security Disability Attorney is already eight months into the claim process. They must then wait more than a year to have their disability hearing scheduled. Because of the complexities of this process, most U.S. Virgin Islands Social Security Disability applicants do not see their first disability payment for nearly two years from the date of their initial disability claim.
Many U.S. Virgin Islands Social Security Disability applicants wonder if there is any way to avoid the complex disability appeal process. In some cases, there is no way to avoid a denial of an initial disability claim. In many cases, however, the services of a U.S. Virgin Islands Social Security Disability attorney may help.
When you work with a U.S. Virgin Islands disability attorney to assist you in your disability claim, your attorney will work with you to complete your disability claim forms and gather the medical evidence that will be needed to prove your disability to the SSA. If, for some reason, your initial application for disability benefits is denied, your lawyer will be able to walk you through the disability appeal process and represent you at your disability hearing.
Many disability applicants wonder if they can represent themselves at a disability hearing. While you are technically allowed to do so, your chances of actually being awarded benefits are much greater if you go into the appeal process with qualified legal representation. Statistics show that applicants who obtain legal representation for their disability hearing are more likely to be awarded benefits than applicants who represent themselves.
The good news is that a qualified U.S. Virgin Islands Social Security Disability lawyer does not have to cost an arm and a leg. These attorneys work on a contingency basis, collecting 25 percent of the back pay that you are awarded by the SSA (not to exceed $6,000). For example, if your disability back payment is $20,000, your lawyer would receive $5,000 of this amount. If you were awarded $40,000, your lawyer would receive $6,000 instead of the full 25 percent of your back payment. Not only does this make hiring a qualified U.S. Virgin Islands Social Security Disability lawyer affordable, it also ensures that your lawyer will do everything in his or her power to win your case for you.
Click here if you would like to learn more about hiring a U.S. Virgin Islands Social Security Disability lawyer and to receive a free evaluation of your Social Security Disability case.