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Indianapolis, Lafayette & Franklin Social Security Disability Blog

How to react after a benefit application is denied

Many Social Security Disability claims filed by Indiana residents are denied at the initial application level. However, this doesn't mean that an applicant is not entitled to benefits. An individual will need to submit an appeal within 60 days of the denial notice being received. An additional five days may also be available to account for mailing the appeal paperwork.

In most cases, it takes only a matter of minutes to fill out appeal paperwork and send it to the correct Social Security office. People can ask an attorney to file an appeal on their behalf. This may be especially beneficial for those who likely won't do it on their own because of anxiety or a habit to procrastinate. In most cases, the denial letter itself won't specify a reason as to why the application was rejected. Therefore, it may not be worth asking why it was denied prior to sending in an appeal.

Valid excuses for missing Social Security appeals deadline

After a denial of a Social Security Disability claim, the app has a specified period of time during which to file an appeal. The deadline for appealing an SSD ruling is 60 days from the day of denial, but 5 more days are added to account for mailing time. The 65-day deadline applies to requests for the review of a decision, requests for disability hearings and reconsideration appeals.

The Social Security Administration generally takes the position that claimants have no excuse for missing appeals filing deadlines, given that the period to file is longer than might be expected. There are, though, circumstances where a claimant is found to have a valid excuse for doing so. If a person was not notified of the denial, he or she may be allowed to file late. A mental or physical condition that prevented or hindered the ability to appeal on time may also be a valid excuse.

What goes into a disability benefit decision

Indiana residents who apply for Social Security Disability Insurance are likely to have their initial applications denied. Only 35 percent of initial applications are accepted, which means many will need to go through the appeal process. However, a reconsideration appeal is also likely to be denied because it is examined at the same office. While it is reviewed by a different person, he or she is typically looking at the same evidence.

That evidence must be reviewed using the same standard applied during the initial examination. Of course, there is still a chance that an application will be approved at the reconsideration level as about 10-15 percent of these appeals are successful. For most, this is simply another step toward getting a hearing before a judge. The hearing stage is where most applications are approved.

How functional limitations influence a disability case

Indiana residents who apply for disability benefits may not hear the term functional limitation as their cases progress. However, it is an important one to understand. It simply refers to a physical or mental condition that prevents a person from being able to work or otherwise function. For instance, someone could have a hard time standing for a long period of time or difficulty remembering what he or she has been told.

A person may receive benefits based on limitations that were caused by a head injury or anxiety. Depression or a bipolar disorder could also lead to limitations as to how a person functions on a daily basis. During the evaluation process, an examiner may talk to the applicant's friend or neighbor about his or her limitations and how they manifest themselves on a daily basis.

A guide to applying for SSDI benefits

Social Security disability insurance supports millions of Americans with disabilities. In fact, upwards of 11 million Americans receive SSDI benefits because they cannot work. You may want to apply for these benefits, but it can be intimidating, especially when you are dealing with income loss, stress and health concerns. 

However, you should not give up. It may seem scary at first, but you may be able to secure the money you need to manage your life with a severe impairment or illness. Keep the following tips in mind when you are applying for SSDI benefits

An overview of a disability benefit denial letter

A disability benefit denial letter looks roughly the same whether a person files for benefits in Indiana or any other state. Typically, there is little to gain by analyzing the boilerplate information contained within it. The letter will start out by informing an applicant that he or she has not met the guidelines to receive benefits. The letter will also include a list of medical sources used to make the determination. This list may include sources that were not provided to an examiner in the initial application.

It may also exclude sources that were provided in the application sent for review. In most cases, this is done in error and does not mean that they were ignored. Typically, an application is denied because it has been determined that a person is able to perform some sort of work. If a medical professional was consulted as part of the decision to deny benefits, that will be disclosed in a denial letter.

Winning SSD claims before hearing level

Despite popular belief, Indiana residents who submit a Social Security Disability claim do not always have to wait until the matter is brought before an administrative law judge to receive an approval. Even though the hearings that are overseen by administrative law judges have the highest approval rate at over 65 percent, there are other levels of the Social Security disability process at which claimants can be approved.

More than 35 percent of people who submit initial disability claims win their benefits at the application level. Around 15 percent of the claimants who file a consideration, the first appeal they are able to file for a denied application, win their claim.

Representation improves chances at SSDI or SSI hearings

An Indiana resident who has representation with them at their Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income hearing is more likely to win their case. Representation results in a higher win ratio because the hearings are comparable to court proceedings in which winning a case requires preparation and proper arguments. In most cases, it's necessary to demonstrate why the claimant should be given disability benefits.

To prepare for a disability hearing, the attorney or non-attorney representative should collect all of the applicant's updated medical records. The updated records will be examined to determine if they can be used to bolster the case. The administrative law judge hearing the case should be sent a copy of the updated records.

Supreme Court to hear case on expert testimony

Expert testimony can have a major impact on disability benefits cases for people in Indiana and across the country. Now, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case on whether experts need to provide evidence and data to back up their assertions about a disabled person's ability to work during a benefits hearing. The nation's highest court will hear a case brought by a former carpenter and construction laborer who applied for disability in 2009, citing his depression, Hepatitis C and degenerative disc disease.

In 2010, shortly after submitting his initial application for Social Security Disability benefits, the man's application was denied, and he went through the Social Security Administration's appeals process. Even at the hearing stage, his application for disability benefits was denied. After that denial, he appealed the result to a federal district court, which sent the case back for further processing, noting that medical expert testimony had not been obtained.

Can my child with autism work and still receive benefits?

Many adults with disabilities enjoy holding down jobs. Work is an opportunity for them to socialize and to make meaningful contributions to the community. It can also enhance their self-confidence. You think that your adult child with autism could benefit from work and is capable of performing well in a few positions.

However, there is the issue of government benefits such as SSI and Medicaid. Can your child work and still get help?

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