Administrative Law and Denial of Benefits Claims in California
Everyone has to take a sick day every now and again, but for those who are ill enough or are injured and miss a substantial amount of time at work, money often quickly becomes an issue. Luckily, there are two government programs that provide income for those who suffer from physical or mental conditions that prevent them from gainful employment for a year or more. Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income can seem like a godsend for those who are no longer able to work in the capacity they previously could.
How Can I Get Social Security Disability?
While it is possible to apply for Social Security Disability benefits on your own, the process isn’t very straightforward, and can be extremely challenging for those who aren’t sure how to properly navigate the system. In fact, the Social Security Administration routinely denies more than half — and maybe as many as 80 to 90 percent — of applications. Most people don’t enlist the help of an administrative law specialist until they have already been denied.
Hiring an experienced lawyer may help ensure you are approved initially, which means you will begin receiving your check sooner. If the Social Security Administration denies this initial claim, you can appeal the decision.
In some cases, the next step is requesting reconsideration. This is a required part of the appeals process in some areas of the state, but not in others. Your claim may be approved during reconsideration, or it may again be denied.
If your application is denied during reconsideration, or if you are in an area that does not require this step, you can appeal in an administrative law hearing. Your lawyer will represent you in this hearing, which is typically informal but is presided over by a judge. In most cases, an experienced attorney can get your claim approved at this point. If not, however, you may still have other options. Your lawyer will discuss the next steps based on the specifics of your situation.
What Is Supplemental Security Income?
Supplemental Security Income, often known as SSI, is handled in a very similar way to Social Security Disability Income. Because you must be low-income to qualify for SSI benefits, however, proving your financial standing also plays a key role in having your SSI claim approved.
The income required to entitle a disabled person to SSI benefits is very low, and includes assets and resources in addition to regular pay. The federal government sets the guidelines on this, and the rules are very strict. While your home and your car are not considered, almost any other type of income or asset must be accounted for. Issues with income are the top reason SSI claims are denied. Because the amount of monthly benefits paid by SSI is also based on your income, you could also be approved but only receive a minimum amount if your income is not calculated correctly.
The application and appeals process for SSI is identical to the process required for disability benefits, with the addition of the need to prove income. Having an experienced lawyer on your side from the beginning can make the system much easier to understand.
Do I Really Need a Lawyer?
Enlisting the help of an attorney can greatly increase the chances that your SSD or SSI claim will be approved. An experienced disability benefits lawyer can save you a lot of time, and help you get your claim approved faster. This means you will begin receiving benefits sooner, and can reduce the stress caused by your financial situation.
While hiring a lawyer for your initial application offers a number of benefits, most people don’t consider legal assistance until they receive a denial of benefits. At this point, it is imperative to find a qualified attorney who understands how the disability benefits appeals system works. Without this help, you may continue to spend time, effort and money to fight the denial only to never have your claim approved.
In some cases, it may become necessary to prove your disability. Your attorney will be able to connect you with the proper medical specialists and consult other experts to properly demonstrate your true condition to the Social Security Administration. If your SSI claim has been denied, your attorney will also be able to help you gather the paperwork necessary to meet the burden of proof requirements to show your income.
How Can I Find a Qualified Attorney?
The Attorney Referral Service of The San Fernando Valley Bar Association pairs residents of San Fernando Valley, California, with the best attorneys available to suit their needs. To learn how we can match you with an experienced administrative law attorney, call us today at (818) 340-4529.
See also: California Board and Licensing