EACH CLAIM MAY HAVE FOUR STAGES
- The Initial Application Stage
- An Appeal Stage where we ask “them” to Reconsider what they did if the Initial Application was denied.
- A Request for a Hearing before a Social Security Administrative Law Judge where we ask to speak informally to a real live lawyer appointed to hear claims.
- A Request the Appeals Council review an Unfavorable decision by the Judge.
(If the Appeals Council Agrees with the Judge there are other appeals. I don’t do those but I know someone who does. Mr. Jared Walker. Esq. https://www.socialsecurityappeals.net/)
The Initial Application is, in my opinion, the most important thing in the entire process. Start wrong; end wrong. Only about 30% of initial applications result in approval within 6-months. Think about all of the people who have really, horrible problems who you’d expect to be approved without much trouble. Those are called Compassionate Allowances. You can find the full list here https://www.ssa.gov/compassionateallowances/conditions.htm Then, think about the regular type of problem; it sounds bad, but isn’t truly and horribly as awful as Compassionate Allowance cases. For example, a person who has a stroke (truly, horrible to normal people) will not automatically be approved. SSA will wait for 6-months to see if the condition improves and how much function the person has. Irritating, but true. A cancer survivor, whose condition is more-or-less under control, will probably be denied even if it took a year of chemo and/or radiation to get there. Really, horrible where Normal People live. But, as I’ve said, we’re on the Social Security Island. What a person says in an initial application makes a huge difference. I heard of a kid (ok, age 36), solid upright citizen, paid the taxes, worked full time with a part-time job. The kid is a juvenile diabetic—which means, the kids blood vessels are not capable of causing normal healing. A blister to me is no big deal. A blister to a juvenile diabetic could land the kid in the hospital with an IV antibiotic drip. So this kid did something really stupid, in Normal People land (jumping out of airplanes, jumping off bridges with a bungee cord, using a chain saw in flip-flops). The kid has multiple broken bones and they just won’t heal. The kid spends a year in the hospital; no income, selling everything possible, behind on the mortgage. The kid files for Disability benefits (because the kid is fully insured) on the part of the application where it says: What problems do you have? The kid wrote, “juvenile diabetes.” A month or so later, the kid’s doctors said, “I can’t save your …. [hand, arm, leg etc.] It has to come off.” Amputation of hands, arms, legs etc. are truly horrible, awful things that are on the Compassionate Allowance list and should result in an early allowance. But, because the kid only said, “juvenile diabetes,” on the application, that is all SSA looked at. They didn’t even send the kid to one of their doctors (and apparently didn’t read the medical records), if they had, they’d have noticed the missing limb. Thinking, “well, the government must know what they’re doing,” the kid didn’t appeal and over the next two years lost everything, literally, including divorce. Because the kid was couch-surfing, he couldn’t have the kids over for visitation. The kid got blisters that wouldn’t heal and was in/out of the hospital for IV antibiotics every month. In the end (36 months later) but just 3 months after we filed, he won. We were able to reopen that case and, because his benefits were $2,000 per month, he ended up with around $60K in accrued benefits – minus my fee, of course. More about fees in the FAQ.
So, you have to tell the gatekeepers at Social Security Island what the problem really is. See Medically Determinable Impairments.