Just because your doctor says you’re disabled, doesn’t mean that the Social Security Administration will grant you disability. It is a good idea to get a lawyer to argue your case for benefits and present the facts in the most persuasive way possible.
Who Determines If I am Disabled?
Depending on the level of your case, it can be either a Medical Examiner or an Administrative Law Judge that determines if you are disabled. The Social Security Administration goes through three main levels in a disability case. At each level, your medical records are examined by a new person.
The first two levels: "Initial Claim" and "Reconsideration"
- Disability is determined by a Social Security Disability Examiner that works at a Disability Determination Service. The examiner is the person that reviews your medical records, information provided by your doctor, and any work history. The examiner will send a letter to your local Social Security office with their findings, but you do not get to meet with your examiner in person. This process is repeated twice and your claim is examined by two separate medical examiners.
The third level: "Request for Hearing"
- Disability is determined by an Administrative Law Judge. Many times people will go to a hearing with an attorney to speak to the judge in person or via video. The judge will read your cumulative Social Security file, which contains your medical records, work history, and reasons for your previous denials. He will also listen to your testimony and may question a medical or vocational expert to make a decision.
What Can You Do?
Many times, the Veterans' Affairs office, the food stamps office, or your doctors offices will write letters explaining that you are disabled. Unfortunately, the evaluation that the Social Security Administration performs is different from the evaluation that is done by those other offices. Although, it is still helpful to get letters from other offices to help prove that you are disabled. Try asking your doctors to list the reasons why they believe you are unable to work. The judges appreciate the feedback from your doctors regarding why you are unable to work or why you have limitations while working.
To be considered disabled, the Social Security Administration has to decide that your medical conditions render you unable to maintain any substantial work, and isn’t expected to get better in the next year. Contact a Social Security disability lawyer at Packard Firm to learn about how we can help you.