Social Security Video Hearing Opt-Out Process

Opt OutDecember 10, 2014 | By Mark L Newman, Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Attorney

The Social Security Administration recently changed the regulations regarding objecting to video hearings.  If a request for hearing is pending prior to September 6, 2014, the Social Security Administration will send the claimant a notice that the hearing may be conducted by video and an opt-out form will be included.  This form must be returned to SSA in the envelope provided to the attorney.

For hearing requests received after September 6, 2014, the hearing request acknowledgement letter will include language that the hearing may be a video hearing.  A form will be provided to opt-out with a barcode on the it.  This form can be returned to SSA by mail in the envelope provided or to the fax number provided on the form.

The opt-out form can be signed by the attorney on behalf of the claimant.  More information about the video opt-out process can be found at www.ssa.gov/representation/appearingathearings.htm.

Mark L. Newman, Attorney at Law | Twitter  | LinkedIn  If you have any questions about any of the information contained in this blog, contact Mark Newman via phone: 513-533-2009  or by email at mln@bpbslaw.com.

 

What Happens To Your Disability Payments When You Reach Full Retirement Age?

October 28, 2014 | Mark L. Newman, Workers’ Comp and SSD Lawyer

If you are approaching full retirement age you are probably wondering what’s going to happen to your disabilitySoc Sec Crad benefits.

The short answer is, there will be some transitions. However you may not be aware they are happening.

There are a series of program changes and paperwork that happen in the background at the Social Security Office. Your payments will be transitioned from your current program into the post retirement age program. Also known as the SSA’s Retirement Program. This will automatically happen and your payments should consider as normal.

In the case of Social Security Disability Insurance, it is sometimes possible for survivors, widows, children, grandchildren, and other family members to be eligible to receive the income of a disabled family member who is now unable to care for, or support them.

If you have seen a change in your own benefits, or those that you receive in relation to a loved one? We encourage you to speak to a licensed Social Security Disability attorney who has handled claims and adjustments for people just like you.

Our attorneys are here to listen to your situation, understand your daily challenges, and answer with direct, educated advice specific to your matter. It doesn’t matter what stage you are in, if you’ve been denied benefits, or need help requesting changes, we’ll be happy to speak to you.

Mark L. Newman, Attorney at Law | Twitter  | LinkedIn

If you have any questions about any of the information contained in this blog, contact Mark Newman via phone: 513-533-2009  or by email at mln@bpbslaw.com.  Advertisement Only

What conditions qualify for Social Security Disability?

October 21, 2014 | Mark L. Newman, Workers’ Comp and SSD Lawyer

In order to receive Social Security Disability Benefits, you must qualify to receive them. The Social Security Office in your area may ask you to submit to a series of tests to determine your physical and mental ability to work.

If you are struggling to make ends meet, find yourself suffering from an illness, injury or medical condition you should consult with a Social Security Disability attorney as soon as you can. Not to help advocate for you, but to consult with you, and if necessary help document your claim.

The Social Security Administration considers a few factors when reviewing applications to receive benefits.

  1. Are you working or will you be able to work in the future?
    • Your ability to work during the recovery of an injury or to a limited capacity while sick will be evaluated in order to determine whether you will be able to support yourself.
  2. Are you severely ill, injured or disabled?
    • Are you battling an illness, suffering from a disability or have an injury that may be difficult to heal? If you are able to recover from your injury, or perform a job that may affect your eligibility for benefits. Mental illness is also taken into consideration.
  3. Are you able to do a different job?
    • If an illness, injury or disability is preventing you from working in your current job, will you be able to do a different job, even if it’s in another field or industry? The

In situations where your claim has already been evaluated, you may need an attorney to advocate for the benefits you were denied. Only a licensed attorney, who is experienced in the area of Social Security and Disability claims can evaluate your situation, history and provide you with options.

Due to the high number of claims the Social Security Office receives, your inquiries and problems may not be directly answered or explained to you in detail. If you have any questions about your situation, claim or other issue, we are here to help.

Mark L. Newman, Attorney at Law | Twitter  | LinkedIn

If you have any questions about any of the information contained in this blog, contact Mark Newman via phone: 513-533-2009  or by email at mln@bpbslaw.com.  Advertisement Only

Workers’ Compensation Benefits and Social Security Disability Benefits – How do they work together?

By Mark L. Newman, Workers’ Compensation and SSD attorneyImgae WC and SSD

If  you, as an employee, have a debilitating accident at work, there are insurance and government benefits available to you and your family. These include:

  • Workers’ Compensation
  • Social Security Disability Insurance
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Medicare coverage

Even though the sources of these benefits differ (federal vs. state), they are interrelated and you may not be able to receive all benefits at their maximum amount. This is referred to as “offsetting.” The interrelationship with Social Security disability and Workers’ Compensation happens more frequently.

Let’s walk through what this means to you and how your benefits are re-calculated if you collect Workers’ Compensation benefits and file for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.

How and why would your Social Security benefit be reduced?  This is due to a law that says you can only receive up to 80% of your average current earnings (ACE) when receiving both workers’ compensation and Social Security disability benefits.  Simply stated:

If (Workers’ Comp benefit $ + SSD benefit $) > Average Current Earnings, your Social Security benefit will be reduced

So how do you calculate your average current earnings, or ACE? Your ACE is the average of either your highest consecutive 5 years of earnings at anytime during your work history, or the highest year of earnings within the 5 years prior to your disability.

For example: If you earned:

$45,000 in 2005
$47,000 in 2006
$48,000 in 2007
$50,000 in 2008
$46,000 in 2009

And you became disabled in 2010, $50,000 is the highest earnings for the 5 years before you became disabled.  To calculate your ACE, which is 80% of this number:

$50,000/12 mns = $4,166.66/mn * 80% = $3,333.33

Your monthly ACE = $3,333.33

Now, determine your monthly workers’ compensation amount.

For example: You receive $400.00 weekly in workers’ compensation benefits.  Multiply this by 4.3333333 (which is the formula Social Security uses to determine your monthly workers’ compensation benefit).

$400.00 x 4.3333333 = $1,733.33 is your monthly workers’ comp benefit in this example.

Lastly, calculate your offset or the highest SSD benefit you can receive (using this example.)

Subtract the workers’ compensation from your ACE to determine your offset.

$3,333.33 – $1,733.33 = $1,600.00

$1,600.00 represents the highest SSD benefit you could receive under this example.

Every case presents different facts.   It is crucial, however, that you report any and all changes (reductions and increases) to your workers’ compensation benefits to Social Security if you receive workers’ compensation and SSD, because each change can affect your benefit.  Keep good records of all communications regarding changes.

Since the benefits and qualifications can differ from case-to-case and state-to-state, it can be difficult to figure out the bottom line without a lawyer.

 

By Mark L. Newman, Attorney at Law | Twitter  | LinkedIn

If you have any questions about any of the information contained in this blog, contact Mark Newman via phone: 513-533-2009  or by email at mln@bpbslaw.com.  Advertisement Only

The Social Security Disability Claims Process Stage 4: The Appeals Council

By Mark L. Newman, Cincinnati Social Security Disability Attorney

SSD Chart ProcessOf the millions of applications received by the Social Security Administration (SSA) each year, only 30% are approved at the initial stage of the application process. What happens to the remaining 70%? If you choose to move forward in order to receive Social Security Disability benefits, you must appeal the decision that was made during this initial stage. This is why understanding the application and appeal process can make this process of applying for benefits clearer and less stressful.

If you have been going through the long and tedious process of appealing your denied claim and you have also been denied at the hearing stage (Stage 3) of the appeal process, you still have a chance. The next stage of the appeal process is to go before the Appeals Council in hopes of having your Social Security Disability claim approved or at least looked at one more time.

Let’s look at how we arrived at this stage, Appeals Council, Appeal #3:

  • Your initial application request was denied, which happens to about 70% of the applications.
  • You asked for a reconsideration, 1st Appeal, and it was denied, which is usually the case (about 85 -90% get rejected at this stage).
  • You then asked for and received a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) – the 2nd appeal in the process. The ALJ hearing results in approval for benefits for about 2/3rds of all disability claimants who follow the appeal process to the hearing level.
  • If you were in the 1/3rd group at the 2nd appeal stage that did not get approved, you will now find yourself at Stage 4, the 3rd appeal and Appeals Council. This is the last level of appeal before you have exhausted the appeals process through the SSA.

A few facts about this stage, The Appeals Council, of the disability claims process:

  • When denied at the hearing stage, you have 60 days to ask for a review by the Social Security Appeals Council.
  • The average time it takes to process an appeal with the Social Security Disability Appeals Council can be anywhere from six months to one year.
  • There is no guarantee that your appeal will even be heard for review. The Appeals Council does not review every case brought before it.
  • Only about 3% of the cases at this level are approved. So based on the low odds of having your case even reviewed, the odds are just as low to have your case approved.
  • The council does not review your actual disability claim. It only reviews the legality of the decision by the administrative law judge. In most cases, the Appeals Council will simply send you a letter stating that the appeal has been denied and will uphold the decision made by the administrative law judge.
  • The Appeals Council can decide to send your case back for another hearing or overturn the decision made by the administrative law judge and approve your SSD claim, if the Appeals Council finds:

o   The judge had made a technical error when reviewing your case, or

o   The judge failed to consider valid medical evidence during your Social Security Disability hearing, or

o   The decision made by the administrative law judge was made completely in error.

  • An appeal at this stage can be handled by you alone but claimants who request an appeal at this level without a lawyer’s help are most often denied.

After the long wait and your case gets denied at this stage, you will need to go on to file another appeal with the Federal District Court. This entails filing a lawsuit at the Federal Court level. If you do not yet have an attorney representing you in your disability claim, you should retain one for this portion of your Social Security Disability appeals process.

By Mark L. Newman | Twitter  | LinkedIn

If you have any questions about any of the information contained in this blog, contact Mark Newman via phone: 513-533-2009  or by email at mln@bpbslaw.com.  Advertisement Only

The Social Security Disability Claims Process Stage 3: Hearing

SSD Claims AppBy Mark L. Newman, Cincinnati Social Security Disability Attorney

Google

If you are thinking about filing for social security disability benefits it is important to understand the process. The cycle of an SSD claim can be quite lengthy so having a basic understanding of each step will be helpful. Last week I reviewed the second step. This article will review the third step. This stage is referred to as the Hearing or 2nd Appeal.

SDD Process Stage 3

If you receive a notice that your request for reconsideration of your Social Security disability claim has been denied (Stage 2) and you want to appeal again, you must request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). You have 60 days from the date of your denied reconsideration to request this hearing. You can see why this is a long process – appeals, 60 day deadlines, and more appeals.

How to Request a Disability Hearing in Front of an ALJ

There are three ways that you can apply to request a hearing in front of a judge:

  • Online
  • Sending in forms, or
  • Writing a letter to your local Social Security office

You must request a hearing in writing in one of the above ways.  Click here for more information.

When you request a hearing, your case will be reviewed by an ALJ, who are attorneys that work for the SSA’s Office of Hearings and Appeals. They can do one of three things:

  1. Approve your claim,
  2. Send your case back for review, or
  3. Deny your claim.

First, the good news. At this stage, about 67% of the claims are approved. However, the average length of time to go through this Stage 3 appeal is almost 12 months. Stage 3 can take a large amount of time to get to, but if you have the time, desire and assistance it also provides the highest chance of having your Social Security disability claim approved.

The Hearing

At the hearing, you appear in person and can argue why you deserve a medical-vocational allowance. The primary goal at this stage is to deny the claim or issue a favorable/partially favorable determination and award Social Security disability benefits to the claimant.

There are several items to note that are unique at a Level 3 hearing and why you should have a qualified disability attorney present with you at this level. This is a legal hearing and while less formal, there is still protocol to follow.

  1. You can and should be present, along with your attorney or representative, and you will testify regarding your condition. Your attorney can assist you in answering questions from the judge.
  2. Witnesses can be present, such as a doctor or other vocational experts, whom the judge will also question regarding your conditions. An attorney can cross-examine these witnesses.
  3. You can submit additional evidence, which should have been submitted within ten days of the date that you filed the request for a hearing. If you are not able to submit your new medical evidence within that time frame, you may request an extension from the ALJ to submit the new evidence.

After the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge will consider all the evidence and testimony presented and he or she will render an independent written decision, of which you will receive a copy within one to two months following the hearing date.If your claim is approved you will receive both a Notice of Decision and a Notice of Award. If your claim is denied, you can move to the next Stage – Appeal #3, the Appeals Council.

Are you starting to see why this process is so lengthy?

For more information, click here. Remember, working with a lawyer can help keep this process on track so you can get the disability coverage you deserve.

By Mark L. Newman | Twitter  | LinkedIn

The social security disability benefits process : Step 2 Reconsideration

SSD Claims App

By Mark L. Newman, Cincinnati Social Security Disability Attorney

If you are thinking about filing for social security disability benefits it is important to understand the process. The Social Security Administration has divided this process into 5 basic steps or stages. The cycle of an SSD claim can be quite lengthy so having a basic understanding of each step will be helpful. Last week I reviewed the first step. This article will review the second step, if your first application was denied. This stage is referred to as the first appeal or reconsideration.

 

SSD Chart Process

Stage 2: Reconsideration Level or First Appeal

Step 2 happens when your initial application for social security disability benefits has been denied. This first appeal step, reconsideration, is your first opportunity to have the initial decision reversed. However, you only have 60 days from the date of the denial letter to contact the Social Security Administration. Sometimes you miss the deadline due to circumstances beyond your control. The Social Security Administration doesn’t typically grant extensions, but, if you have missed your deadline, talk to an experienced attorney about your options.

A reconsideration is a complete review of your claim by someone who did not take part in the first decision. They will look at all the evidence submitted when the original decision was made, plus any new evidence you may have supplied.

A few things to note:

  • The average time required to work through this Step 2 (first appeal) is between three and five months.
  • At this step only about 13% to 15% of the claims are granted.
  • If you are denied at this stage, and don’t worry most claims get denied at this stage, you will get another notice, similar to the first, explaining your right to appeal again. This second appeal, or Step 3, is an opportunity to have your case heard before an Administrative Law Judge, i.e. request for hearing.

Are you starting to see why this process is so lengthy? For more information, click here. Remember, working with a lawyer can help keep this process on track so you can get the disability coverage you deserve.

By Mark L. Newman | Twitter  | LinkedIn

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Understanding the social security disability benefit claim process : Step 1

SSD Claims App

By Mark L. Newman, Cincinnati Social Security Disability Attorney

If you are thinking about filing for social security disability benefits it is important to understand the process. The Social Security Administration has divided this process into 5 basic steps or stages. The cycle of an SSD claim can be lengthy so having a basic understanding of each step will be helpful. This article will review the first stage.

SSD 5 Step Process

SSD 5 Step Process

Stage 1: Initial Application

This step is the most important because it lays the foundation for  the initial decision regarding your claim and any subsequent decisions or appeals will be based on the information provided in this step. So being thorough and accurate are necessary. There is a large amount of detailed information that you will be required to provide on forms from the Social Security Administration, including, but not limited to:

  • Personal and family information
  • If you served in the military, you will need to supply service records
  • Work history with names of employers, dates worked, salary and maybe even job duties
  • Detailed medical records (details of your disabling condition, doctors and/or hospital visits and exams, diagnosis, treatments, medications, etc.)Financial information such as your tax records (W-2s, and tax filings)
    • If you do not have these, the SSA will pay for and collect all your relevant medical records at this stage.
  • Federal tax filings and copies of W2s

At this stage, it can take up to four months before a decision is made on your claim. The key here is to be patient and if contacted to supply additional information, do not delay in responding to the request. Being slow to respond may delay any decision on your disability claim, and if you do not answer their requests for information, your claim may be completely denied.

Be accurate when completing the sections on this application. Any false information could result in quick denial of your claim.  If you get a notice from the Social Security Administration stating that your application has been “disapproved”, don’t feel rejected. 65% of all initial applicants are denied for many different reasons. In fact, that denial letter you receive will contain information about your rights to appeal the initial decision, which will take us to explaining how stage 2 works.

Next blog post will be about stage 2 of the SSD claim process – filing your first appeal.

By Mark L. Newman | Twitter  | LinkedIn

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