When you’re looking for an attorney to help you with your Social Security Administration (SSA) disability benefits claim, talk to us at Osterhout Berger Disability Law. We have a full roster of attorneys with over 50 years of experience between all of them. Plus, we’ve helped thousands of people in Indiana and the surrounding towns obtain the SSA disability benefits that they need.
Applying for Disability Benefits
Applying for disability benefits with the SSA can be a long and confusing process, but you’ll need to fill out some paperwork. To get started, you can go online at home, which some people like because it’s convenient. Unfortunately, this can spell disaster for your claim because it’s easy to make mistakes, especially when you don’t have access to a person who can answer your questions. Another option is to go to your local SSA office and fill out the paperwork there. This is a slightly better option because you can at least ask questions of the office workers there. But this still isn’t the best option because you won’t be talking to people who are actually invested in seeing you obtain a favorable outcome on your claim. When you come to us at Osterhout Berger Disability Law, you’ll like that we take your claim seriously and will do everything that we can to ensure an outcome on your claim that’s in your favor.
When you make a claim, there are some types of information and medical evidence that you’ll need to submit. For instance, you need to ensure that the judge has a full list of all of the medical professionals that you’ve seen for your condition, and they’ll need to know all of the facilities where you’ve received treatment. The judge will also need documentation of how your condition affects your ability to work and live a normal life, both from the perspective of your doctor and from your perspective.
There are times when the judge won’t feel that they have enough information to make a decision, so they will ask for a consultative exam, which is an appointment with a doctor of the SSA’s choosing. You might be asked to undergo another test, or the doctor might simply want to ask you some questions. Either way, if you’re asked to go to one of these exams, you must attend to remain eligible for disability benefits.
Appealing a Denial
Sometimes things won’t go your way even when the claim is laid out well. If your claim is denied, you can make at least one appeal, and you might even have the option of appealing a second time if the first appeal doesn’t go in your favor. There are a few reasons why your claim might be denied in error, and the appeals process is there to rectify any mistakes made by the judge and to align your case with the most up-to-date copy of the Blue Book, which is the guide that the SSA uses to determine whether or not you qualify for disability benefits.
Periodically, the criteria for conditions can change in the Blue Book. If this happens between the time that you apply and the time that you have your hearing, you might not have all relevant information handed to the judge. If this causes you to lose your case, it’s a good reason to appeal. This is the only time that you might be given the opportunity to submit new information and evidence during the appeals process.
A second time that you might appeal a denial is if your case was denied because the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) made a mistake when processing your claim. For instance, if there was a recent ruling at the federal district court level that also applies to your case and the ALJ didn’t take the ruling into account, you might be eligible for benefits. You won’t submit new medical evidence in this instance, though. This point sometimes confuses people, but you’re not trying to give further evidence that you have a particular condition that affects your ability to work. Rather, you’re trying to show that the judge made a mistake.
The first appeal that you make will go before the Appeals Council, which is the only appeal system within the SSA. If you’re unsuccessful at this level, you might be eligible to appeal at the federal district court level. It’s unusual to succeed in an appeal at this level, but you can be certain that your case will be taken seriously and given the attention that it deserves if it does reach this level.
What We Do To Win Your Case
When you’re making a claim or appeal, we’re in your corner and will do everything that we can to ensure a favorable outcome on your case. We start by explaining the whole process to you at the beginning so that you understand what is coming next. We’ll continue to communicate with you via email, text, traditional mail, and phone call to ensure that you always understand what’s going on with your specific case. Plus, you can ask questions at any point along the way.
We also work to build our clients’ cases with the appropriate medical evidence. We’ll show you how to fill out any release forms, and we’ll make sure that your medical evidence is submitted to the judge in time. We can even remind you to continue with your treatment plan and continue going to doctor’s appointments.
The hearing is one of the most stressful points for a lot of claimants, but we take a lot of the stress out of the process by going through all of the questions that you’re likely to be asked by the judge. We’ll also help you come up with responses, and we’ll tell you the most important parts of your case to focus on.
If legal jargon makes you uncomfortable, let us take care of communicating with the judge for you. We understand the terminology, so you’ll never have to worry about losing your case simply because you didn’t understand what someone was saying. We’ll also question any expert witnesses because we know what’s important to establish.
When claims are unsuccessful, we continue to work with our clients by starting the appeals process. You have 65 days from the time of the denial, and we’ll get started on it as soon as we determine that it’s in your best interest to appeal.
What We Need You To Do
Whenever you make a claim and work with Osterhout Berger Disability Law, we work with you to make the process as simple as possible, but there are a couple of things that only you can do. Firstly, we need you to return communication from us promptly. There are times when we might need your signature or approval in a timely manner to keep your claim progressing at a quick pace, so we need you to return phone calls, emails, and other types of communication quickly. We also like to keep our clients updated on the latest in their cases because we want you to have a positive experience with us.
We also need you to continue with your treatments and medical appointments. We can remind you, but when you fail to do these things, it sends two messages. Firstly, it tells the judge that you might not be as sick or injured as you say. Secondly, it tells the judge that you might get better if you actually followed the treatment plan.
How We Can Help
There are several ways in which the team at Osterhout Berger Disability Law can help you receive the benefit you deserve. We help individuals who need to…
- Apply for Social Security Benefits and want to ensure everything is done right the first time
- Appeal a denial of Social Security Disability Benefits
If you are facing one of these situations, please do not hesitate in reaching out. Our team of experienced attorneys are here to help, and your consultation is free.