Accident Injury Lawyer - Bailey Javins & Carter

What kind of questions might I be asked at my SSD hearing?

Our federal government has created programs over the years aimed at helping those who have suffered an injury or a loss to get back on their feet. One of these programs is Social Security Disability. The program’s goal is to help supplement the income of workers who have been injured and who are unable to work. This isn’t something that is automatically granted when a Charleston worker suffers an injury, however.

Social Security Disability benefits are something that needs to be requested by the injured worker. When requesting SSD benefits there is often a hearing in which the injured person makes a claim as to why approving SSD benefits is appropriate it their situation. It is always important to tell the whole story and not to exaggerate the story, seemingly for your own benefit. Misrepresentation of facts or symptoms could derail the entire process.

These are the types of questions a person may be asked when seeking Social Security Disability benefits: the medical-type questions about symptoms, medical history and questions specific to whatever the injured is suffering from; questions about your medical treatment may be asked, including how a person may be attempting to recover from their injury; employment history will likely be a topic of conversation and the judge may or may not ask specific questions about work history, especially questions pertaining to the most recent position held by the injured; and questions about a person’s daily activities from sun-up to sun-down may be asked by the judge to help put into perspective the severity of the injury and how it affects an injured person’s time when they are off-the-clock.

Whether or not you are facing the SSD hearing alone or with help, the questions the judge may ask likely will not change. If you are feeling anxiety about how to prepare or answer these questions, it may be helpful to get more information about the process. Coming to the SSD hearing prepared is the first step toward a favorable outcome. Accurate answers to important questions can mean the difference between approval and denial of SSD benefits.

What is the difference between SSD benefits and SSI?

Whether you were born with a disability or acquired one in life due to an injury or an illness, living with a disability can be very challenging for residents in West Virginia and elsewhere. It is not only difficult to carryout daily activities, but it can be hard to maintain a job and even pay for all the medical expenses required to address any arising health concerns from the disability suffered. Such a condition can make it impossible or nearly impossible for the individual and the person’s family to meet all their financial requirements and basic needs. Thus, a person living with a disability is likely to apply for Social Security Disability to help offset these financial burdens.

What is the difference between SSD benefits and Supplemental Security Income? The Social Security Administration runs both of these programs, and both programs provide benefits to individuals based on the disability the person is suffering from and certain factors that make them eligible for each program.

SSD benefits are provided through Social Security Disability Insurance, which is based on prior earnings. The taxes workers pay into the Social Security Program finances SSDI; however, to be eligible to receive SSDI benefits, a worker must earn a sufficient amount of credits. Credits are based on the taxable work that is insured for Social Security purposes. Those eligible for SSD benefits include those that are blind, disabled workers, widows or widowers of disabled workers or adults that have been disabled since childhood.

On the other hand, SSI disability benefits are awarded based on the financial needs of the adults or children applying for them. This includes those that are blind or disabled, have limited income and researches, meet the living arrangement requirements of the program or other eligible factors. Unlike SSDI benefits, SSI benefits are financed through general revenues.

No matter a person’s age or cause of a disability, those living with a disability are likely to endure financial issues due to the medical expenses and life adjustment related to the disability suffered. Therefore, it is important to understand what Social Security programs you qualify for and what steps you need to take to recover any benefits you are entitled to.

What is the appeals process for SSD benefits?

For those suffering a disability in West Virginia and elsewhere, it can be difficult to meet all the financial responsibilities required of an individual or a family. In some cases, a serious or permanent disability can make it difficult or impossible to work, thus, making it challenging to make an income to cover living expenses. In these matters, an individual will likely seek Social Security disability benefits; however, not all applicants are approved. In these cases, an applicant may want to exercise the person’s right to appeal a denied application for disability benefits.

What is the appeals process for SSD benefits? Following a denial, an applicant has 60 days to make a written request for an appeal. The appeal process is made up of four levels. The first level is reconsideration, which is followed by a hearing by an administrative law judge. The third level is a review by the Appeals Council and the final level is a Federal Court review.

Reconsideration is a complete review of an applicant’s claim. Someone who did not take part in the first decision completes this review. At this level of review, all evidence submitted when the original decision was made plus any new evidence will be looked at. This process can normally be conducted without the need for an applicant being present.

When an applicant disagrees with the decision made at reconsideration, the person may ask for a hearing. An administrative law judge that had no part in the original decision or the reconsideration of the claim conducts this. It is usually advantageous to attend the hearing because this could assist with the explanation of the applicant’s case.

If an applicant does not agree with the decision made at the hearing, could the person can request for a review by the Social Security’s Appeals Council. During this process, the Appeals Council looks at all of the requests made for review; however, a request might be denied if the Council believes the hearing decision was correct. If a case is reviewed, it will either be decided by the Appeals Council or returned to an administrative law judge for further review.

If an applicant disagrees with the decision of the Appeals Council or the Appeals Council decides to not review an applicant’s case, the person may file a lawsuit in a federal district court.

The appeals process can be lengthy and complex; therefore, it is imperative that applicants fully understand what options are available to them. This will help them better protect the person’s rights and interests in the matter. 

Wait for hearing for applicants appealing denied SSD claims

When individuals in West Virginia and other states across the country are unable to work because of an injury, illness or disability, this can be very problematic and life impacting for the individual. While Social Security disability benefits are available to those suffering from serious disabilities, those filing for benefits may not receive them following their initial claim. In fact, many are initially denied and will have to appeal this decision if they seek to collect SSD benefits.

A denied claim requires an applicant to go through the appeals process; however, this process is not always quick and often causes an applicant to make numerous appeals until they reach a favorable decisions or run out of options. However, due to a substantial drop in the Social Security Administration’s staffing, this has caused a major backlog in those attempting to appeal a denied claim.

In fact, recent data suggests that 1.1 million applicants are waiting an average 543 days for the person’s appeal at the hearing level. This wait is related to the staffing at the SSA dropping. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, there was a 14 percent staffing drop since 2010. That amounts to a loss of 1,989 workers who are no longer able to process disability claims.

This staffing shortage is a growing problem, especially for those appealing their denied claims. In fact, there are also staffing challenges in the appeals stage due to a shortage of administrative law judges available to hear disability claims. Due to these shortages, those applying for SSDI can roughly expect a 30-month wait to just receive a hearing.

While the SSA has released a plan to address these issues, it is projected that the problems of backlogs will not be resolved until the summer of 2020. Whether people are waiting for an appeal, waiting to hear a decision or are working on a SSD application, it is important to take the time to be fully aware of their rights and options. This will help progress the process when the time comes to act on a decision made by the SSA.

Accident Injury Lawyer - Bailey Javins & Carter

Seeking SSD benefits for mental conditions

Being involved in a serious accident is a traumatic and life impacting event. In most cases, a victim suffers major physical injuries. While it is clear that medical intervention is required to help the victim recover and heal from injuries, what about the injuries that cannot be seen? A major accident, no matter the type or cause, could greatly impact the victim’s emotional and mental health as well. The gravity of this impact can be hard to measure, but could result in severe anxiety, depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder. Such a circumstance could make it difficult or even impossible for victims to return to normal life, even after they have healed from the physical injuries.

At our law firm, we understand the tremendous amount of stress an accident victim undergoes, making it a difficult situation to fully recover from. We are devoted to fighting for and protecting the rights of those suffering from disabling mental conditions. Social Security Disability, or SSD, is available to those who are unable to work due to qualifying impairments.

And, for those suffering from PSTD, anxiety, depression or other mental conditions, it is possible to collect SSD benefits and meet your basic financial needs. At our law firm we attempt to help individuals at any and all phases of the application process. Whether you require additional information, medical documents or evidence that help prove you qualify for benefits, our law firm has helped past clients collect the necessary documents and information for their legal issues.