So, you received a denial of your disability application in the mail. Now what do you do? The first thing to realize is that you should not give up. The majority of people who apply for disability benefits are denied multiple times, but in order to keep your chances of obtaining disability benefits alive, you will need to appeal the denial. The first thing you need to do is read the denial letter. It will tell you that you have 60 days in which to appeal the denial. That is a serious deadline. It shouldn't be hard to appeal the denial within a 60 day time frame, especially now that you can appeal online at ssa.gov. If you don't have access to the internet, you could go to your local library and go to SSA's website and appeal there. If you don't have access to the internet at all, you can still appeal by going into the local SSA office and completing the forms by hand. If you cannot physically go to the local SSA office, you can call Social Security's 1-800 number, which is 1-800-772-1213, and they will send you the paperwork that you need to appeal. The reason you want to appeal is that eventually, you will be able to have a hearing in front of a judge and you will be able to explain your disabling impairments to that judge. But that will never happen unless you appeal.
Social Security disability benefits are monthly payments that support disabled individuals who cannot work a full-time job. There are two different government programs that pay disability benefits: Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Although both programs use the same basic definition of "disability," there are fundamental differences between the programs. The benefits and qualifying requirements differ, because SSI includes a component of financial need and can be obtained by those who are disabled but did not pay into the government system.
SSD, on the other hand, is the program that pays monthly benefits to people who are disabled and have paid into the system through working and paying their taxes. Many people confuse these two programs, which is easy to do because one person can receive payments from both programs. For example, if you worked for 20 years, became disabled, but you worked at a low paying job, your monthly benefit amount under SSD may be low enough that you also qualify for some SSI money, depending on the state in which you live.
The main thing to understand about the programs, is that when you apply for disability benefits with the SSA, you are applying for both types of benefit. The SSA will determine if you are not eligible financially for SSI. They will also determine, under their rules, if you are eligible and are disabled for SSD. Eligibility for benefits begins when you apply for benefits. If you do not apply, you are not eligible and you cannot go back in time and receive past benefits. Many people think that if they apply and they haven't worked for the past 5 years due to disability, if their application is approved the SSA will pay them for the entire time they have been off work. That is simply not true. SSI begins on the date of application, if one is found disabled. Under the SSD application, the most a person can receive in past due benefits is payments one year prior to their application date, as long as they were not working and they are found disabled for that past period of time.
The important thing to understand from this information is that no matter what type of benefit you are eligible to receive if you are disabled, you can receive nothing unless you apply. Therefore, if you become disabled and are no longer working, the sooner you apply, the better off you will be.
It is paramount that you understand the importance of collecting all of your medical records when you apply for disability benefits and updating all of your records prior to attending a hearing. The SSA has changed the law and states they don't have to rely on the opinion of your treating physician or even the opinion of their own physician. Rather, all medical opinions are equal and the opinion that a judge can rely on is the one that is best supported by the medical records. Even if your doctor writes a letter stating you are disabled, the SSA doesn't have to give it much weight, unless the medical records support that opinion. In other words, submit all of your medical records as soon as possible. This includes records of past surgeries.
The second thing that is very important to winning your disability hearing is that there are firm deadlines in which to submit medical records. The SSA has issued a rule that all medical records must be submitted five days prior to your hearing and in typical lawyerly fashion, this means five "working" days. So, in actuality, everything must be in the record one week prior to the hearing. There are good reasons for this rule when the SSA is dealing with thousands of hearings across the nation. It helps the efficiency of the entire system to have all the evidence into the record so it can be reviewed by the judge and experts. The bottom line is this: one week prior the hearing is the deadline for submitting your medical records. If you fail to submit the records at least one week prior to the hearing, the judge doesn't have to admit them into the record at all and that means she doesn't have to consider them. Don't wait until the last minute to submit your records or to give all of your records to your attorney so she can submit them. Be prepared in advance and you will have a better chance of winning your disability benefits. #SSD #SSI #medicalrecords #windisability #cannondisability
Dianna Cannon, J.D. - Social Security Disability Attorney - Featured in Attorney at Law Magazine 2018
Recently, the SSA has added eating disorders to their disability criteria in the listed impairments. If you have an eating disorder that impacts you physical or mentally, it is possible that you could be granted disability benefits. For example, if you have Anorexia and due to that you have difficulty with your memory, interacting with others, and concentrating, you may be unable to work. Objective medical evidence that would need to be presented to the SSA about this impairment includes psychological records and records regarding your weight over a 12 month period. Below please find the criteria for eating disorders that the SSA considers.
12.13 Eating disorders (see 12.00B10), satisfied by A and B:
If you feel you cannot work due to a disabling eating disorder, contact our office for help. Call Cannon Disability Law at 801-322-2121 and see if you qualify for disability benefits. We will answer your questions for free with no obligation for you to become our client.
Many people who apply for disability benefits think that they will be awarded benefits if they simply explain their disabling impairment to a Judge. But the SSA system doesn't work like that. The law clearly states that the person applying for disability benefits has the burden to prove they are disabled and they must do so with objective medical evidence from a physician. But how can you get medical evidence if you don't have insurance to go to the doctor?
There are always ways to be treated for your disabling physical or mental impairments. Hopefully, you or your spouse or parent have medical coverage through insurance. If not, then there are free or low cost clinics and you can become their patient. Many doctors might also set up a payment plan with you. Producing medical evidence that proves your disabling is key to obtaining benefits. We have free and low cost clinics listed on this website to help you find a doctor. Regular, consistent medical treatment is they key to proving disability in your SSD or SSI claim. Call us for free to discuss your case - 801-322-2121.
How can we help you if you have symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, or some other mental illness? One of the main things that we can do if you have severe mental health impairments that prevent your from working is we can help you apply for disability benefits. Many people are overwhelmed when they face the paperwork required to apply for disability benefits. We can help you with that by helping you complete your application and filing the appropriate forms with the Social Security Administration prior to your deadlines. When you hire our law firm, we work hard to make sure that your application and appeals are filed on time and that your medical records are collected and turned into the SSA.
If you are receiving treatment for your mental illness and your symptoms are so severe that you can longer work, you should apply for disability benefits. If you have been off work for 12 months due to your disabling mental health impairments or you believe your mental health impairments will prevent you from working for over a year into the future, you are entitled to apply for benefits. We can make this process easier for you. Call Cannon Disability Law today for a free evaluation of your claim at 801-322-2121.
The Social Security Administration plans to expand CDI units and have written a letter to Senator Orrin Hatch, who is Chairman of the Committee on Finance, outlining their plans to expand through the year 2022. Below please find excerpts of a letter from Nancy Berryhill, Acting Commissioner, dated February 13, 2018, which explains their reasoning that they believe they have saved the agency billions of dollars.
Expansion of Cooperative Disability Investigations (CDI) Units Progress Report (February 2018)
Bipartisan Budget Act Reporting Requirements
Section 811 of the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) of 2015 requires the expansion of Cooperative Disability Investigation (CDI) Units. Specifically, the BBA:
Expansion of Cooperative Disability Investigation (CDI) Units - FY 2018 Progress Report As Required by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015
Expansion of Cooperative Disability Investigations (CDI) Units Progress Report (February 2018)
Below is a three-year snapshot of agency savings from FY 2015 through FY 2017, illustrating total projected SSA savings of more than $900 million over the three-year period. In addition, below is an illustration of judicial actions during the same timeframe. According to the OIG, “Significant increases in ...[s]avings reported [in FY 2015] are the results of a major multi-year, multi- subject investigation conducted by the San Juan, Puerto Rico CDI unit.” OIG, 2015 Spring Semi-Annual Report to Congress.
Current CDI State Coverage
Expansion of Cooperative Disability Investigations (CDI) Units Progress Report (February 2018) As illustrated below, SSA currently operates 40 units, covering 34 States, Washington, DC, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
CDI Expansion Plan
During FY 2017’s expansion efforts, we successfully added one CDI location in New Jersey. Assuming participation from local law enforcement entities, SSA plans to expand CDI coverage to 16 remaining States, and 4 remaining territories. In FY 2018, we are slated to open three CDI units in Hawaii, Indiana, and New Mexico. Hawaii’s CDI unit will serve as a central location to organize CDI investigative activities for Hawaii, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa. Therefore, FY 2018 expansion will successfully provide CDI coverage to a total of six new locations (three States and three Territories). We will target implementation two to four units per year thereafter until nationwide coverage is complete, as outlined in the below tentative expansion/rollout schedule.
Total estimated agency startup and operating expenses may cost up to $1.2 million per added unit (this includes both SSA and OIG expenditures). Costs include needed equipment/supplies, travel, personnel, and space acquisition/build out expenditures in the first year of implementation. Ongoing operating costs during subsequent years will be approximately $600,000-$800,000 per unit. Given varying geographical labor, overhead and administrative costs, each unit will have varying overall costs on the agency. These costs represent a maximum cost estimation, and SSA continues to look for opportunities to reduce startup costs of new units through tactics such as utilizing existing space and equipment.
Recruitment of law enforcement partnerships will remain a continuous effort. Receiving commitments from interested law enforcement entities depend on varying factors, such as resource availability from respective States, cities, and/or county law enforcement agencies, as well as local budget determinations. In addition, some States may require legislative action prior to law enforcement participation. In many instances, the willingness to offer investigative personnel for partnership is contingent on each of the law enforcement’s own State, city, and/or county budget approvals. Therefore, securing law enforcement commitments typically occur within the year of interest, not beyond current fiscal years. Currently, there are six CDI Units operating without a law enforcement partner.
SSA, OIG, and other pertinent stakeholders will continue to collaborate on efforts in expanding the CDI program nationwide. The agency will share progress and milestones via subsequent annual reports, as the agency reinforces its commitment to combat fraud.
Did you go to your hearing with an administrative law judge and lose? It doesn't feel good to get an Unfavorable Decision in the mail, after waiting two years to get a hearing, sending in all of your medical records, and going through the stress of a hearing. The SSA is now only granting 40% of cases across the country, which means if your case was denied at a hearing, you are not alone. You know your disability keeps you from working, so what should you do? My advice is, don't give up. Here are some options:
1) Hire an attorney. If you went to the hearing unrepresented you didn't make a good choice. But you can remedy that now. Have an attorney review your Unfavorable Decision and see if there is any way of appealing the decision. You have 60 days from the date the decision was issued to appeal to the Appeals Council. An attorney should be able to tell you for free if there is a chance of winning your case on appeal.
2) Appeal to the Appeals Council. You can write to the Appeals Council and demonstrate to them that the Judge made a mistake. If they agree with you, there is a small chance that they will remand the case, which means they will send it back to the same Judge for another hearing. There is a 1% chance that they will overturn the Judge and grant your benefits, so don't believe that by appealing they will grant your case. If you have additional medical evidence, you can submit that information with your appeal to the Appeals Council. There is a 60 day deadline to appeal, so don't miss your deadline or your appeal will not be accepted.
3) You can file again. Yes, if you file again you are giving up on ever recovering your past benefits under your old application, but you already lost those benefits when you lost your hearing. So, sometimes it is better to not appeal and file again. Why? Because if you file again you can build a new record by submitting better medical evidence, you can start fresh and hire an attorney who can help you and although you will wait for another hearing, you may get a different Judge who will see things your way. Try to remember that if you lost your case once, you will need to do things differently if you apply again. You will need to collect all of your medical records, comply with your doctor's treating advice, and build a record that supports disability. Perhaps you will need to find a doctor who is more supportive of your case or who is a specialist in treating your impairments. It is the evidence which wins the case and it is your duty to present the best case that you can. Even if you lost the first time, you can win on a second application if you have the proper evidence. Don't be discouraged. If you can't work due to your disability, apply a second time and start over. Don't give up.
The Republican Tax Plan will be paid for by cutting entitlement programs, such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. These are entitlements that working citizens pay for with taxes out of every paycheck. If Congress changes these programs, millions of individuals will reach old age and be left without financial security and healthcare. You will also lose the money that you have invested in your entitlements. Again, these are not handouts. This is not welfare. These are benefits that you paid for with your work and most people expect to rely on these benefits as their full retirement or at least as a supplement to their retirement savings.
Additionally, the Republican Tax Plan contemplates eliminating Medicaid and disability benefits, which workers also pay for with their taxes. Medicaid is the healthcare program that helps the most needy in our society and without Medicaid millions of people will go without healthcare. Medicare is the program that working citizens become entitled to when they reach the age of 65. The Republican Tax Plan is giving tax benefits to corporations and the most wealthy individuals in our society, on the backs of the most needy.
DIANNA CANNON, J.D.