Thousands of people in Whittier and across California apply for Social Security disability benefits every year. Even workers who have paid into the Social Security system for decades before becoming disabled have to endure the stressful and, typically, lengthy wait to be approved for benefits – if they’re even approved at all.
Roughly 30 percent of applicants nationwide are awarded benefits during the initial stages of the application process. The other 70 percent must go through the appeals process in order to obtain benefits.
No matter what stage of the application or appeals process you’re in, if you’re struggling to receive disability benefits, our Whittier disability lawyers at The Law Offices of Dr. Bill LaTour are here to help.
Do I Need a Disability Attorney?
As you’ve likely realized, the road to disability benefits is not straight-forward. While it’s not required, hiring an experienced Whittier disability lawyer who can help you navigate the twists and turns will not only make the complex process much easier but give you a better chance of receiving benefits during the initial stage. In fact, you’re nearly 3x more likely to get approved if you hire a lawyer.
If you have a claim, our office can help you:
- Gather medical records and other necessary paperwork.
- Ensure that all forms are filled out correctly.
- Coordinate with the SSA on your behalf.
- Represent you at your appeals hearing, if necessary.
What if My Application Has Already Been Denied?
If, like many applicants, your initial application was denied, you can still call our office. With disability claims, denials are not uncommon. However, a denial doesn’t mean you aren’t entitled to benefits. In fact, many individuals who are initially denied are able to obtain benefits through the appeals process.
Denied applicants have the option to appeal their claim at several different levels. Typically, an appeal consists of a request for reconsideration and a hearing.
Request for Reconsideration
You can file a request for reconsideration within 60 days of receiving a denial letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA). This initial stage essentially asks the SSA to reconsider your claim. At this point, our attorneys will help collect any additional or missing evidence needed to further prove your disability and submit it to the SSA on your behalf.
If your request for reconsideration is also denied, you can appeal at the next level by requesting a hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ). During this hearing, our attorneys will present your claim and attempt to prove the severity of your disability. This may involve calling witnesses to testify to the nature of your condition and its effect on your everyday life.
If the ALJ denies your claim, you may have the option to appeal at further levels. Our office will review your claim and represent you through each stage of the appeals process if we feel you are entitled to disability benefits.
Why Are so Many Disability Claims Denied?
Proving the nature of your disability and how severely it limits you can be difficult. There are many complicated requirements and forms needed for a successful claim. What’s more, the SSA is strict in making their determinations.
Claims examiners review thousands of disability applications every year, some of which contain misleading or false information. In an attempt to identify fraudulent claims, the SSA is quick to deny any applicant they believe might be trying to falsely obtain monthly checks.
With this in mind, many applicants are denied simply because they didn’t provide enough medical evidence or they filled out a form incorrectly. A qualified Whittier disability lawyer who is familiar with the SSA’s strict rules and regulations can help you avoid these common mistakes or correct them during your appeal.
How Much Does a Disability Attorney Cost?
Many people hesitate to contact an attorney because they aren’t sure how much it will cost. Our office believes that every disabled individual should have access to quality legal representation. That’s why we operate on a contingency-fee basis. This means we do not get paid unless we achieve a successful outcome for your claim.
If you need help obtaining disability benefits, please don’t wait to call The Law Offices of Dr. Bill LaTour. You have nothing to lose and never have to worry about expensive hourly legal fees.
Am I Qualified?
In order to be approved, you must meet the SSA’s strict definition of disability. A claims examiner at the SSA will review your application and determine whether or not your condition meets the following criteria:
- Your condition prevents you from continuing the job(s) you have held in the past.
- Your condition prevents you from performing any other type of work for which you are qualified.
- Your condition is expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death.
If your condition doesn’t meet these criteria, then the SSA will not consider you to be disabled – under their definition – and your claim will likely be denied.
Many people assume that qualifying for disability benefits is dependent on their specific disability. Instead, a large portion of the SSA’s decision is centered around whether or not your condition allows you to work and make a living. For example, if you suffer a disabling injury but are still able to hold a job and make more than a certain amount, the SSA will almost certainly not award you benefits.
However, every person’s situation is different. Our office will work with you to determine the validity of your claim and how you should best proceed.
Which Type of Benefits Should I Apply For?
The SSA manages two programs that award disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The criteria listed above are used by the SSA to determine eligibility for both programs. However, there are additional criteria that will determine which type of benefits you should apply for, including your age, income, and work history.
This program is intended for workers who have become disabled. In order to receive SSDI benefits, you must have earned a certain number of ‘work credits’ by working jobs that pay into Social Security.
To learn more about work credits and qualifying for SSDI benefits, visit the SSA’s website or contact our office.
SSI is a needs-based program designed for U.S. citizens who are blind, disabled, OR over the age of 65. You must also meet the SSA’s resources limit, which states that SSI recipients cannot have countable resources that exceed $2,000 as an individual or $3,000 as a couple.
You can read more about SSI benefits and what the SSA considers to be countable resources here or speak with one of our Whittier disability lawyers.
Have More Questions? Call Dr. Bill Today.
Dr. Bill LaTour is an experienced attorney and psychologist, giving him the unique ability to truly understand how your disability affects your daily life AND represent your claim for benefits.
Life with a disability involves many challenges. With our help, understanding how to receive the benefits you need doesn’t have to be one of them. Keep in mind that the process of obtaining disability benefits can be long, but you can feel confident that our team is handling your claim as quickly and efficiently as we can.
Contact us today at 800-803-5090 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation. And if your disability prevents you from leaving home, don’t worry. We’ll meet with you over the phone! We’re dedicated to making the process as easy as possible for our clients in Whittier and anywhere in the Greater Los Angeles area, Inland Empire, or Orange County.