Social Security Disability

How Does a Workers’ Compensation Settlement Affect Social Security Disability in Missouri?

If you have been injured on the job, you may have filed a workers’ compensation claim and are in the process of seeking a settlement. This can be a great step in getting the compensation you need to recover. However, if you also collect social security disability benefits, you may have questions. A workers’ compensation settlement provides valuable compensation after a workplace injury. But social security disability benefits also provide valuable benefits. It is important to have an understanding of how each one works and how one might affect the other. Doing so can help you maximize your ultimate recovery. If you have questions about workers’ compensation, social security disability, and lawsuit settlement in Missouri, contact the MO social security disability and workers’ compensation attorneys at the Cottrell Law Office today. We can help you get the answers you’re looking for and fight to get you the compensation you need and deserve.   We’ll take care of everything else. Submit the short form below to schedule a consultation. Will My Social Security Disability Benefits Be Reduced If I Get a Settlement Check from a Lawsuit? Not necessarily. If you receive benefits through the Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) program, receiving a settlement payment from a personal injury lawsuit or workers’ comp claim will not reduce or affect your SSDI benefits. However, if you receive monthly disability benefits through workers’ compensation, those monthly benefits could affect your SSDI benefits. If you receive supplemental security income (SSI) benefits, any type of settlement check could impact your disability benefits. This is because SSI is considered a “needs-based” benefit that individuals must qualify for based on their assets. Thus, depending on the amount of your settlement, your SSI benefits could be reduced. If you currently receive social security disability, settlement may impact what you currently receive. Speak with an attorney today to discuss your situation and determine how best to move forward. Does a Missouri Workers’ Compensation Settlement Affect Social Security Disability Benefits? If you receive a workers’ compensation settlement payment, it is important to understand how it may affect your social security disability benefits. Again, because SSI is a need-based benefit, any additional income or assets you come into will affect your level of need. When it comes to SSDI, however, the extent to which a workers’ compensation settlement affects your social security disability benefits depends on whether it is classified as a lump sum settlement or a monthly disability benefit. Lump sums settlements do not affect SSDI benefits, but ongoing workers’ comp disability benefits do. Typically, Social Security dictates that your combined workers’ compensation and SSDI benefits can’t exceed 80% of the average income you earned when you were working. To illustrate, imagine that your regular income before your disability was $2,500 per month, your workers’ compensation disability benefits are $1,400 per month, and your SSDI benefits are $1,600 per month. SSDI won’t let you collect more than $2,000 per month (80% of $2,500). Therefore, SSDI will use the workers’ comp benefits to offset what you could have received from Social Security. As a result, your SSDI benefits will decrease to $600 per month. How Can I Minimize the Impact of My Social Security Disability Settlement on My SSDI Benefits? Even if you do receive a disability benefit from workers’ comp, however, there are ways to potentially reduce a workers’ compensation settlement’s impact on your social security disability benefits. In Missouri, a workers’ compensation settlement agreement can be drafted to help minimize the impact of the settlement. You can do this by adding an amortization provision to the original written settlement agreement. With this approach, your workers’ compensation disability benefits are classified as a lump sum settlement to be paid out over a certain period of time, rather than a monthly benefit to be paid out indefinitely. The downside is that you can’t go back to your workers’ comp insurer and ask for further disability benefits once the payments run out. But you can avoid the SSDI offset. An experienced workers’ comp and social security disability attorney can help ensure that this type of language is added to your settlement agreement. They will examine all of your potential benefits and help you draft an agreement that maximizes your total recovery. Do I Have to Report a Lump Sum Settlement to Social Security in Missouri? The short answer is yes. As soon as you accept a lump sum settlement, it is imperative that you report the settlement to Social Security. Because SSI benefits are income and asset-based, any lump sum settlement you receive may impact your benefits. Thus, you should report any settlement to your caseworker as soon as possible. In fact, you must report anything that could affect your eligibility for social security disability benefits. Examples of other changes you must report include changes in: Living arrangements, Income, and Assistance with living expenses. You must report a settlement or any other changes that could affect your SSI no later than 10 days after the end of the month in which the payment was received or the change occurred. Knowingly failing to do so could result in sanctions against your payments. This could result in withholding of disability payments for as little as 6 and up to 24 months. Our Results for Those with Missouri Social Security Disability Benefits Social Security attorney Wesley Cottrell of the Cottrell Law Office has helped countless clients get the representation they need and deserve. Some of the results we have helped achieve include workers’ compensation settlements and verdicts in Missouri for: $450,000; $240,000; $206,000; and $200,000. While we can never guarantee the same or similar results in any given case, we do have a reputation for success. We will always strive to get the best results for our clients that we can. If you are looking for strong legal representation in your Social Security or workers’ compensation case, contact our team today to see what we can do for you. How a Social Security Disability Attorney Can […]

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Social Security Disability

Your Joplin Disability Lawyer Can Assist with Your Hearing

If you receive a denial of benefits letter from the SSA, there is still hope. You can always appeal the decision. An appeal must be submitted in writing within 60 days from the date you receive the denial, and there is a presumption that you received the letter within five days after it was sent.  After a denial, there are three levels of appeal and your Joplin disability lawyer can help you navigate through them. How to Prepare for a Social Security Disability Hearing The unfortunate reality is that most people who apply for Social Security Disability benefits are denied the first time around.  This means that most people end up appealing the decision.  However, it will take two separate levels of appeal before they get to have a disability hearing before a judge, which can take nearly a year to get scheduled.  If it takes that much to get a hearing, it is certainly important to be prepared.  The most important thing you will need, in preparing for a disability hearing, is medical evidence of your disability. You Need to Present Current or Updated Medical Documentation The most important part of preparing for your disability hearing is to gather any additional medical records so that when you arrive at your hearing, you can present the most recent medical records that exist. Be sure that you do not have any gaps in your medical documentation. In most situations, the Social Security Administration will not obtain additional medical records for you, before your hearing. Although the initial claims examiner will obtain updated records when your claim is first evaluated, when your case file is transferred to the hearing office, all “case development” will usually cease. That means, no further records will be obtained on your behalf and no further review will be conducted. Obtain a Statement from Your Treating Physician An essential part of your medical evidence is your physician’s medical opinion.  In order to adequately prepare for your disability hearing, it is crucial that you obtain supportive statements from the physicians who treated you in the past. To be effective, your physician should write a detailed “medical source statement” explaining in detail the work activities you are unable to do.  That is referred to as your functional limitations.  For example, if you are unable to sit or stand longer than 20 minutes, or unable to lift more than 20 lbs., those limitations need to be explained. Review Your Case File Prior to the Hearing You are allowed to request your entire case file from Social Security, before your hearing. Here again, you can seek the assistance of your Joplin disability lawyer.  It is important to take advantage of this opportunity and review your file to determine whether there are any missing medical records or mistakes in the claims examiner’s reasons for denying you benefits. Reviewing your file also helps you prepare arguments ahead of time, as to why Social Security has incorrectly denied you benefits. A Joplin disability lawyer Should Represent You at the Hearing When you are represented at your hearing by a Joplin disability lawyer, your lawyer will take care of requesting and submitting your most recent medical records and medical source statements.  All you will need to do is simply arrive at the hearing.  Your lawyer should also prepare you for questioning by the Administrative Law Judge. Seeking a Review by the Appeals Council If you are again denied benefits, following the appeals hearing, you can request further review by the Social Security Appeals Council. The council will consider the request for review but is not required to review your claim if it agrees with the ALJ’s decision. Otherwise, the Council can either decide your case itself or require the ALJ to look at the case again. The Council’s decision will be sent to you in writing. The Final Step – Appealing to the Federal Court If the Appeals Council upholds the ALJ’s denial of your claim, or if they refuse to review your case at all, you can file a lawsuit in federal court. You only have 60 days from the Council’s decision to file the lawsuit. The SSA cannot assist you in filing the lawsuit, so it is wise to obtain legal representation at this point if you haven’t already. This part of the appeals process can take at least a year to complete. At this point, there are three possible outcomes: the case can be remanded to the ALJ for reconsideration; the court can affirm the ALJ’s decision, to deny your claim; or the court can reverse the ALJ’s decision and award your social security benefits. If you have questions regarding appeals, hearings, or any other social security disability claims issues in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 616-6356.

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Social Security Disability

Rogers Social Security Disability Claims: What You Need to Know

When you apply for Social Security benefits, it can be a challenging and somewhat intimidating process. Submitting a claim requires strict adherence to the often complicated rules governing both the application process and eligibility requirements. Completing the necessary forms accurately can be a challenge as well, as they are often confusing.  However,  completing those forms properly following all of the rules can improve your chances of being approved for Social Security benefits the first time. The Social Security Administration makes an initial determination based entirely on the information you provide in your application.  If you want to get it right from the start, it is wise to consult with a Rogers social security disability attorney as early as possible. Common Mistakes People Make When Applying for Social Security Disability The statistics show that most social security disability claims are denied initially.  To be exact, approximately 65% of all claims are denied when they are first filed, and approximately 85% are denied on appeal.  Clearly, knowing some of the common mistakes that result in denial would be beneficial.  One important step you can take toward filing a successful disability claim is consulting with a Rogers social security disability attorney before filing your initial claim. You Should Not Collect Unemployment After you Apply Most people do not realize that applying for unemployment benefits creates a serious conflict with a claim for social security disability.  When you file for unemployment, you are required to confirm that you are ready and available for work, but you just can’t find any.  However, when you file for Social Security disability, you are stating the opposite, that you are unable to perform substantial work activity for twelve months or more.  As you can see, these two statements are mutually exclusive. As such, collecting unemployment benefits is likely to jeopardize your disability application. What Proof is Necessary for a Successful Claim? You are considered disabled “if you cannot do work that you did before and we decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s).” The Social Security Administration expects that your disability will last for at least one year or result in death.  However, the Social Security Administration does not actually make the decision. Your Rogers Social Security Disability attorney can help you prepare your claim right the first time. Who Determines Whether You are Disabled? When your disability application is submitted, your file is turned over to a designated state office that actually reviews your medical records and any other documentation you submit along with it. In Arkansas, this office is called Arkansas’s Disability Determination for Social Security Administration. These state agencies determine medical eligibility for Social Security disability for their residents. However, the process has been standardized throughout the country. It is Best to Stop Working While your Application is Pending Like collecting unemployment benefits, it is better to stop working, since you are claiming your disability prevents you from working.  If you don’t quit your job entirely, you should at least cut your hours substantially, in order to not jeopardize your eligibility for disability benefits.  Social Security actually determines the amount of work you can do, while still being eligible for benefits.  This is known as the SGA (Substantial Gainful Activity). If you earn more than the Substantial Gainful Activity limit, your claim will likely be denied. In 2019, the SGA is $2,040 for blind disabled applicants and $ 1,220 for non-blind applicants. Keep Track of the Status of your Application Once you have submitted your application for Social Security disability, there is still more to do. It is important that you continue to check the status of your claim regularly. There is always a chance that your paperwork could be misplaced, slip through the cracks so to speak, or the agency may neglect to inform you that your claim has been denied. Without knowing the status of your claim, you could be waiting around for nothing, only to find out later, some action was needed, or your claim had already been denied. Be Aware of the Deadline for Filing an Appeal if You are Denied If you are one of the many applicants who are initially denied, and you plan to file an appeal, make sure you do not miss your deadline.  Missing the deadline is always a basis for denying an application or a reconsideration of your application. The deadline for requesting a disability hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ) is 60 days from the date your disability claim was last denied. If you have questions regarding social security disability claims in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 616-6356.

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Social Security Disability

When Is a Person Considered Disabled by Social Security Disability?

When it comes to applying for Social Security Disability benefits, the proof you submit in support of your disability claim is crucial to the success of that claim. Your treating physician’s opinions and the contents of your medical records can have a huge effect on whether your disability claim will be accepted. This blog will explain how disability decisions are made and when a person will be considered disabled for purposes of Social Security Disability benefits. How is “Total Disability” Defined? Under the Social Security Administration’s rules, you are disabled “if you cannot do work that you did before and we decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s).” It is expected that your disability is either long-term (lasting for at least one year) or result in death. Who is Responsible for Determining Disability? The purpose of Social Security Disability benefits is to provide replacement income for those who are unable to work because of a long-term injury or illness.  You may be surprised to know that it is not actually the Social Security Administration that is responsible for making the decision regarding disability claims. Instead, when your disability application is submitted, the file will be sent to the designated state office for review of your medical records and any other medical evidence you submit with your claim.  This office has a different name in each state.  In Arkansas, it is called Arkansas’s Disability Determination for Social Security Administration. In Missouri, it is called the Missouri Disability Determination Services. When Is a Person Considered Disabled? Social Security analysts typically expect to see at least a 12-month medical history, relating to the applicant’s condition for which disability is being claimed.  This medical information should be “current,” meaning records of medical treatment received within the last 90 days. However, in many cases, applicants have run out of money or insurance to pay for treatment, making current medical information hard to obtain.  Unfortunately, many individuals applying for social security disability are already financially strained because they have been unable to work due to their medical condition. How Will My Disability Claim Be Processed? Most Social Security disability claims are processed through the local Social Security Administration field offices.  This means, your state’s social security agency will determine your medical eligibility for disability benefits. The process for making this determination has been standardized throughout the United States.  This means that each analyst in each state will utilize the same questions in determining whether a claimant meets the disability standards. If you appeal an unfavorable determination, it will be decided either by a Disability Determination Services agency or by an administrative law judge in the Social Security Administration Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. Why Are So Many Disability Claims Denied? The most common reason that Social Security disability applications are denied is lack of sufficient medical evidence.  In many cases, applicants need to submit to a consultative examination, during the application process.  This extra step is most often required when an applicant either has no medical evidence or the evidence they had submitted is too old to be considered. The Need for a Residual Functional Capacity Assessment Except for very limited situations where approval of a disability claim is automatic, you will be required to submit a Residual Functional Capacity assessment. This assessment must be prepared by your treating physician. The only exception is in cases where your disability is included in the Social Security impairment listing. The purpose of the assessment is to establish what the claimant is still capable of doing despite the claimed disability. The Residual Functional Capacity assessment is a detailed report from your treating physician describing any limitations you have as a result of your medical condition.  The assessment also specifies how your limitations affect your ability to do certain work-related activities. The problem is, there are some physicians who are unwilling to complete the assessment form, which presents a challenge in proving your disability claim. Helping Your Physician Understand What Is Needed If your physician does not know what to expect or what is expected of them, you can help by assuring her that all that is required is completing the form. The opinion she gives to the agency will not affect her practice or threaten her license. Once the form is submitted, that is typically all that is required of your physician. If your physician believes that completing the form will be far too time-consuming, showing him the Residual Functional Capacity assessment form might help.  The required information can usually be obtained during a regular appointment since the physician is already familiar with your condition. If you have questions regarding disability claims or any other Social Security Disability matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 616-6356.

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Social Security Disability

Advice on Appealing Disability Denials from a Joplin Disability Lawyer

Social Security Disability benefits are provided to those individuals who are unable to work due to a disability.  Being eligible for Social Security Disability Income, often referred to as SSDI, requires proof of a qualifying disability.  The federal statutes define exactly what the term “disability” means.  However, even if you are able to prove that your medical condition qualifies, your claim still may not be approved by the Social Security Administration.  If your claim is denied, your next step is to appeal. Here is some great advice on appealing your disability denial from our Joplin disability lawyer. You are Required to Prove Your Disability when You First File Your Claim The term “disability” is defined by the Social Security Act as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.  There are several factors that the Social Security Administration considers when determining whether the medical condition you claim actually qualifies you for benefits. This includes determining whether your condition is severe enough to warrant an award of benefits.  The Social Security Administration also considers the applicant’s age, education and work experience in determining whether he or she can still perform the work previously performed. Your Joplin disability lawyer can assist you in providing all the information you need the first time. What is the Next Step if Your Application is Denied? If you receive a denial of benefits letter from the Social Security Administration, there is still hope. You can always appeal the decision. An appeal must be submitted in writing within 60 days from the date you receive the denial, and there is a presumption that you received the letter within five days after it was sent.  After a denial, there are three levels of appeal that can be navigated: a hearing by an administrative law judge, review by the Appeals Council, and finally, review by a federal court. What Should I Expect at My Appeals Hearing? The basic purpose of the first appellate step, the appeals hearing, is to re-examine the “disability” issues.  These typically include whether you are disabled when your disability began and whether it has ended. The Administrative Law Judge, who presides over the hearing, will be a neutral party who was not involved in the initial denial of your claim. At the hearing, you will have the opportunity to present your case in person and provide new information to support your claim. You are also allowed to bring witnesses to testify on your behalf. After reviewing the evidence submitted at the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge will issue a written copy of his decision. Be sure to let your Joplin disability lawyer review the decision as soon as you receive it. Requesting Another Review by the Appeals Council If you are again denied benefits, following the appeals hearing, you can request further review by the Social Security Appeals Council. The Council will consider the request for review but is not required to review your claim if it agrees with the Administrative Law Judge’s decision. Otherwise, the Council can either decide your case itself or require the ALJ to look at the case again. The Council’s decision will be sent to you in writing. Again, let your Joplin disability lawyer review the letter as soon as you receive it. Appealing to the Federal Court is Your Last Option If the Appeals Council upholds the Administrative Law Judge’s denial of your claim, or if they refuse to review your case at all, you can file a lawsuit in federal court. You only have 60 days from the Council’s decision to file the lawsuit. The SSA cannot assist you in filing the lawsuit, so it is wise to obtain legal representation at this point if you haven’t already. This part of the appeals process can take at least a year to complete. At this point, there are three possible outcomes: the case can be remanded to the ALJ for reconsideration; the court can affirm the ALJ’s decision, to deny your claim; or the court can reverse the ALJ’s decision and award you social security benefits. If you think you may qualify for Social Security Disability Income, you need a social security attorney who understands the Social Security system, and how to submit an application that will be approved, or will work hard to obtain the benefits you deserve on appeal. If you have questions regarding Social Security Disability appeals or any other Social Security Disability matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 616-6356.

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Social Security Disability

How Can I Make My Disability Claim Successful?

Applying for Social Security benefits can certainly be a challenge, as our Rogers disability lawyer is fully aware. The process, including appealing denials, can be stressful and even intimidating for those who have never been through it. Strict compliance with the intricate rules for the application process and for eligibility itself is required. Properly completing the necessary forms can be overwhelming and confusing.  However, completing them properly will most often improve the likelihood of being approved the first time. The Social Security Administration will make an initial determination based solely on the information you provide in your application.  You may be thinking, how can I make my disability claim successful? Here are some things to consider. Mistakes to Avoid With Your Social Security Disability Claim Statistically speaking, the majority of social security disability claims are denied when first submitted.  In fact, nearly 65% of all claims are denied initially and close to 85% are denied again on appeal. Clearly, knowing some of the common mistakes that result in denial would be beneficial.  One important step you can take toward filing a successful disability claim is consulting with a Rogers disability lawyer before filing your initial claim. Who Decides Whether I Am Disabled? When you submit your disability application, your file is turned over to a designated state office that actually reviews your medical records and any other documentation you submit along with it. In Arkansas, this office is called Arkansas’s Disability Determination for Social Security Administration. In Missouri, it is known as Missouri Disability Determination Services. These state agencies determine medical eligibility for Social Security disability for their residents. However, the process has been standardized throughout the country. What Needs to Be Proven for Disability Benefits? You are considered disabled “if you cannot do work that you did before and we decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s).” The Social Security Administration expects that your disability will last for at least one year or result in death.  However, the Social Security Administration does not actually make the decision. Be Sure to Check the Status of your Application Once you have submitted your application for Social Security disability, there is still more to do. It is important that you continue to check the status of your claim regularly. There is always a chance that your paperwork could be misplaced, slip through the cracks so to speak, or the agency may neglect to inform you that your claim has been denied. Without knowing the status of your claim, you could be waiting around for nothing, only to find out later, some action was needed, or your claim had already been denied. You Should Not Continue Working While your Application is Pending Just like collecting unemployment benefits, it is better to stop working, since you are claiming your disability prevents you from working.  If you don’t quit your job entirely, you should at least cut your hours substantially, in order to not jeopardize your eligibility for disability benefits.  Social Security actually determines the amount of work you can do, while still being eligible for benefits.  This is known as the SGA (Substantial Gainful Activity). If you earn more than the Substantial Gainful Activity limit, your claim will likely be denied. In 2018, the SGA is $1,180 for non-blind disabled applicants and $1,970 for blind applicants. Collecting Unemployment Can Conflict with Your Disability Award Most people fail to realize that a request for unemployment benefits raises a serious conflict with a claim for social security disability.  When you file for unemployment, you must confirm that you are ready and available for work, but you just can’t find any.  However, when you file for Social Security disability, you are stating the opposite, that you are unable to perform substantial work activity for twelve months or more.  As you can see, these two statements are mutually exclusive. As such, collecting unemployment benefits is likely to jeopardize your disability application. If You Need to Appeal, Don’t Miss the Deadline If you are one of the many applicants who is initially denied, and you plan to file an appeal, make sure you do not miss your deadline.  Missing the deadline is always a basis for denying an application or a reconsideration of your application. The deadline for requesting a disability hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ) is 60 days from the date your disability claim was last denied. The denial date is typically stamped on the first page of the denial letter (or notice of denial after a reconsideration). If you do not request a hearing by the deadline, you must start the whole process over from the beginning. The only other option is to demonstrate “good cause” for requesting a hearing after the deadline has passed. If you have questions regarding the disability claims process or any other Social Security disability matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (800) 364-8305.

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Social Security Disability

What Kind of Evidence Is Used to Evaluate and Decide My Disability Benefit Claim?

When it comes to applying for Social Security Disability benefits, the disability benefits evidence you submit in support of your disability claim is crucial to the success of that claim. Your treating physician’s opinions and the contents of your medical records can have a huge effect on whether your claim will be accepted. This blog will provide some recommendations from our Social Security disability attorney about supporting your disability claim with sufficient disability benefits evidence. You Must Comply With Your Physician’s Instructions One of the most important things to remember is that the agency will assess the validity of your claim by determining whether you have complied with your physician’s recommendations regarding your treatment. If you do not take your physician’s advice, take the prescribed medication or keep your appointments, then Social Security may not believe that you are actually suffering from the condition you claim or that the condition is not as limiting as you represent in your claim. Your compliance will be part of your disability benefits evidence. The Need For a Residual Functional Capacity Assessment Except for very limited situations where approval of a disability claim is automatic, you will be required to submit a Residual Functional Capacity assessment. This assessment must be prepared by your treating physician. The only exception is in cases where your disability is included in the Social Security impairment listing. The purpose of the assessment is to establish what the claimant is still capable of doing despite the disability. The Residual Functional Capacity assessment is a detailed report from your treating physician describing any limitations you have as a result of your medical condition.  The assessment also specifies how your limitations affect your ability to do certain work-related activities. The problem is, there are some physicians who are unwilling to complete the assessment form, which presents a challenge in proving your disability claim. Why Your Physician May Not Provide Disability Benefits Evidence There are several possible reasons why your physician may be reluctant to help with your disability claim.  For example, not all physicians understand what is expected. Others simply may not agree with the disability program in general or may not believe you are actually disabled.  Some physicians may not have the time or may want to take the time to provide the assessment. If you are concerned about your physician’s willingness to help with your claim, speak to our Social Security disability attorney. Physicians Are Not Always Familiar With the Required Disability Benefits Evidence It may be surprising, but not all physicians are familiar with the social security disability process and do not know what type of information is necessary to support a claim. Regardless, one of the most important things your physician can do is keep detailed records of your condition and its symptoms for a consistent period of time. Since you are claiming that your condition and its symptoms are making it difficult for you to perform your daily or work activities, having medical records that support those claims is crucial. It is equally important to be able to show that you sought treatment for your condition and your medical records will demonstrate that, as well. Your Physician May Need Help Understanding What is Needed If your physician does not know what to expect or what is expected of them, you can help by assuring her that all that is required is completing the form. The opinion she gives to the agency will not affect her practice or threaten her license. Once the form is submitted, that is typically all that is required of your physician. If your physician believes that completing the form will be far too time-consuming, showing him the Residual Functional Capacity assessment form might help.  The required information can usually be obtained during a regular appointment since the physician is already familiar with your condition. Dealing With a Physician’s Misgivings Regarding the Disability Process Another issue may be that your physician has inaccurate expectations about the assessment process. He or she may assume that the assessment form will be very long or complicated and they are unwilling to spend the time completing it. Some physicians are concerned about being asked to testify on a patient’s behalf. Some are concerned that their reputation in the community could be negatively affected if a disability claim they supported is not approved by the Social Security Administration. If you have questions regarding Residual Functional Capacity assessments or any other Social Security Disability matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (800) 364-8305.

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Social Security Disability

What You Should Know Before Your Security Disability Hearing

For clients who have been denied social security disability benefits, it is possible to appeal that denial. A formal appeal needs to be submitted in writing within 60 days of receiving notice of the denial. It is assumed that you received the letter no later than five days after the denial letter was mailed to you. There are three levels of appeal. Our Joplin social security disability attorney can help you get prepared for the hearing. You Should Be Prepared for Your Disability Appeal Hearing It is not at all uncommon for clients who apply for Social Security Disability to be denied benefits initially. Consequently, many clients need assistance with appealing that denial. Before you will be entitled to an appeal hearing, there are two levels of appeal that must be completed. When you get to the point of having a hearing, it might take almost a year to get it scheduled. Since getting to this step can be a challenge, it is critical to be prepared. Following are a few tips that our Joplin social security disability attorney wants to share. You Need to Have Updated Medical Records Prepared As with personal injury cases, establishing a disability requires gathering the appropriate medical evidence to support your application. This way, when you attend your social security disability hearing, you will be prepared to present your medical records. There should not be any gaps in your medical history and treatment for the condition for which you are claiming disability. Remember that the Social Security Administration is not required to obtain any of the necessary medical records for you prior to the hearing. Any records that may have been provided initially or obtained by the claims examiner when your claim is first evaluated need to be updated. The hearing office is not responsible for that. Obtain a Statement From Your Treating Physician The principal component of the medical evidence of your disability is the medical opinion of your treating physician. In order to be successful at your disability hearing, you must have a statement of support from your treating physician in order to establish your condition and how it has affected your life. There must be what is known as a “medical source statement” which explains in detail the work activities that you are incapable of doing as a result of your medical condition. This explanation is referred to as your functional limitations.  For instance, if you cannot sit or stand for more than 20 minutes, or if you unable to lift more than 20 lbs., your physician needs to explain those limitations clearly. Have Your Joplin Social Security Disability Attorney Review Your Case File One thing many applicants for social security disability benefits don’t realize is that they can request a copy of their entire case file from the Social Security Administration in order to prepare for their upcoming hearing. At this point, if not before, it is wise to have your Joplin social security disability attorney make that request and review the file with you. It is crucial that you take this opportunity to review the file in order to ensure that there aren’t any missing medical records or any other mistakes that led to your claims examiner to deny your benefits. Another benefit of reviewing your file ahead of your hearing is being able to better prepare the arguments you will need to make in support of your claim. It is Wise to Be Represented by a Joplin Social Security Disability Attorney Being represented by a Joplin social security disability attorney during your disability appeal hearing is very important. Your attorney can handle obtaining and submitting your updated medical records and medical source statement. Your Joplin social security disability attorney will also prepare you for answering questions that will be posed to you by the Administrative Law Judge. Any other preparation can be taken care of and all you need to do is arrive on time to your hearing. When Do You File an Appeal in Federal Court If your hearing before the Administrative Law Judge is not successful, you can request that the Appeals Council review the Judge’s decision. If the Appeals Council agrees with the Judge or denies your request to review the case, you can decide to file a lawsuit in federal court to challenge your denial. The deadline for filing a lawsuit in federal court is 60 days from the date of the Appeals Council’s decision either denying your request to review or affirming the Administrative Law Judge’s denial. It is again wise to have a Joplin social security disability attorney represent you in the federal lawsuit. This part of the appeals process will likely take at a year to complete. Once you reach federal court, there are three potential outcomes: the case can be remanded to the ALJ for reconsideration; the court can affirm the ALJ’s decision, to deny your claim; or the court can reverse the ALJ’s decision and award you social security benefits. If you have questions regarding appeals, hearings, or any other social security disability matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (800) 364-8305.

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Social Security Disability

How Long Will It Take to Get a Decision for Social Security Disability?

It is impossible to accurately predict how long it will take for the Social Security Administration to make a determination on a social security disability claim.  It can easily take anywhere from 30 days to two years for your benefits to be awarded.  Unfortunately, social security programs do not have established deadlines for applications or appeals.  On average, an initial disability claim can take 3-4 months for a decision.  The first level of appeal, or reconsideration, takes about the same amount of time. Administrative Appeals If you are still denied benefits after a reconsideration, an appeal to an administrative law judge (ALJ) is the next step.  Obtaining a decision at this stage of appeal usually takes much longer, because a hearing is required.  The wait time for a hearing to be scheduled can be anywhere from 6 months to a year.  The time really depends on how many cases are pending at that particular hearing office. How busy an office may be will vary by geographic area. How to Obtain an Expedited Decision The Social Security Administration will expedite the determination process for certain critical cases. These include a terminal illness, a condition that qualifies for a “compassionate allowance,” service in the military on or after October 1, 2001, dire need of assistance, or a threat to personal or public safety. What to expect at a hearing An Administrative Law Judge will preside over the hearing and is an impartial individual who was not involved in the denial of your claim.  The hearing is your opportunity to present your case and provide additional information to support your disability claim.  You can bring witnesses to testify on your behalf.  You can also have an attorney present to represent you.  After the hearing is concluded, the Administrative Law Judge will issue a written decision on your claim. What comes after an appeals hearing? If you are still denied benefits after the appeals hearing, you can ask for further review by the Social Security Appeal’s Council.  The Council will consider the request for review.  However, if the Council agrees with the decision of the Administrative Law Judge, it may not agree to review your claim.  On the other hand, the Council can decide your case itself or require the Administrative Law Judge to review your case again. The final step is taking your claim to federal court If the Council upholds the ALJ’s denial of your claim, or if they refuse to review your case at all, your last resort is to file a lawsuit in federal court, within 60 days.  The Social Security Administration will no longer be involved and cannot assist you in filing the lawsuit.  Obtaining legal representation, if you haven’t already, is crucial. This part of the appeals process will likely take a year or more.  Your case can be remanded to the Administrative Law Judge for reconsideration, the Administrative Law Judge’s decision can be affirmed, or the court can reverse the decision and award your social security benefits. When do I become eligible to apply for SSDI? Most people are eligible to file a disability application the day after they either stop working entirely or their earning drop below $1,197 per month as of 2018 (or $1,970 per month for individuals receiving benefits based on blindness).  Your condition must be expected to last at least one year.  If you are initially denied, but your medical condition becomes worse by the time you receive a reconsideration or hearing, you can submit new evidence regarding your condition.  Therefore, there is no reason to wait until your condition worsens, before you file your initial application.  Get the process started as early as possible. Are you disabled and unable to work? It is all too common for people to procrastinate when it comes to applying for social security disability.  However, given the fact that obtaining a decision on a disability claim can take months, if not years, this may not be the best way to go. Generally speaking, if you disabled, or believe you may be, and you are unable to work, you may qualify for disability benefits.  If that is the case, it would be wise to minimize the time you will ultimately wait to receive benefits, by filing a Social Security disability application as soon as you become eligible. If you have questions regarding car accidents or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (800) 364-8305.

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Social Security Disability

Suicidal Tendencies as a Basis for Social Security Disability Claims

While there are a variety of health conditions that easily qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, there are others that may be more challenging to get approved. When a loved one dies with a disability, the family may be able to receive death benefits. However, there are various eligibility requirements that must be met.An uncommon issue that arises is making a claim for death benefits following a loved one’s suicide. Let our Joplin disability lawyer explain the issues that may arise. Suicide Alone is Not Considered a Disabling Condition The first thing our Joplin disability lawyer wants you to understand is that Social Security does not recognize the risk of “suicide” alone to be a disabling condition. Along those same lines, Social Security will not award disability benefits to the family of someone who commits suicide simply based on that fact. On the other hand, if suicidal risk is coupled with signs and symptoms of another eligible condition, then disability benefits may be available. One example of this is depressive disorder which includes the symptom “thoughts of death or suicide.” Consideration of “Suicidal Tendencies” in Benefits Determination There are other examples of situations where the Social Security Administration considers suicidal tendencies in making benefits determinations. For instance, expedited handling of Social Security disability benefits applications can be based on the existence of “suicidal tendencies,” which allows staff to designate those cases as “critical.” However, such a designation will not typically be based solely on the statements of the applicant. There needs to be documentation to support this claim in the applicant’s medical records, such as finding or conclusions of the applicant’s treating physician. If your medical records support a finding that you are at risk for suicide, then you should consider filing a request for the case to be designated as critical. Let our Joplin disability lawyer help you determine what steps to take. Joplin Disability Lawyer Can Help You File Your Disability Claim Applying for Social Security benefits can be a difficult, and somewhat intimidating, process.  It usually requires strict adherence to complex rules regarding both eligibility and the application itself. Completing the required forms accurately can be overwhelming, or maybe even confusing.  But completing them properly can improve your chances of being approved the first time.   The Social Security Administration will make an initial determination based solely on the information you provide in your application.  If you cannot prove that you are disabled, you will not be successful. Let our Joplin disability lawyer help you with your claim. What You Basically Need to Prove You are considered disabled “if you cannot do work that you did before and we decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s).” The Social Security Administration expects that your disability will last for at least one year or result in death. However, the Social Security Administration does not actually make the decision. If you have specific questions about your disability and how to prove it, contact a skilled social security disability attorney. Monitor the status of your application Once you have submitted your application for Social Security disability, there is still more to do. It is important that you continue to check the status of your claim regularly. There is always a chance that your paperwork could be misplaced, slip through the cracks so to speak, or the agency may neglect to inform you that your claim has been denied. Without knowing the status of your claim, you could be waiting around for nothing, only to find out later, some action was needed, or your claim had already been denied. Do Not Miss Your Disability Appeal Deadline If you are one of the many applicants who are initially denied, and you plan to file an appeal, make sure you do not miss your deadline.  Missing the deadline is always a basis for denying an application or a reconsideration of your application. The deadline for requesting a disability hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ) is 60 days from the date your disability claim was last denied. If you have questions about filing an appeal of your Social Security disability determination, please contact our Joplin disability lawyer for advice. If you have questions regarding Social Security disability claims or any other Social Security matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (800) 364-8305.

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