When someone applies for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits in Boston, they do so by submitting an application along with supporting documentation from medical health professional showing proof of the claimed disability. The disability can be a single medical condition that will allow the claimant to qualify for benefits, but more likely than not, it will be for a combination of medical conditions that hopefully will qualify the patient for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
Once a claimant submits the initial application, personnel at the United States Social Security Administration (SSI) will review it. This first review is performed by an employee with the job of evaluating claims. It should be noted that in the majority of claims (well more than half), the application is denied without any type of hearing or even a valid reason. The claimant will simply be told that he or she does not have a single debilitating condition or combination of conditions that qualifies the individual as disabled under the SSA guidelines.
Assuming you have not done so already, this would be a good time to consult with a Boston Social Security disability lawyer. The reason for this is that the system is designed in such a way that the decks are very much stacked against the unrepresented claimant. While you may be worried you cannot afford an attorney, you will not likely have to pay any legal fees as the federal statutes provide that your attorney will be paid a statutory rate only if you are successful.
Once your application has been denied, you can resubmit it for an initial appeal. This is not, however, what you might think of when you hear the word appeal. In this case, it is not a judge that makes a ruling, but it is a coworker of the person who initially denied your application that gets to see if he or she thinks their coworker (on the same GS pay grade) got it right the first time. In the vast majority of cases, this peer review appeal will only affirm the initial denial.
After possibly getting another review, you can apply for a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). An ALJ is supposed to provide a neutral evaluation. However, since they are employed by SSA and have their offices at the SSA location, it is hard to see how they are actually any kind of neutral arbitrator. This is also true of the Vocational Expert (VE), and many of the doctors hired by SSA to perform independent evaluations.
Aside from the way in which this process works, there is a problem with the time it takes to actually get a hearing with an ALJ. The reality is that it can take a year or more to even get a hearing. However, according to a recent news feature from Huffington Post, the SSA is working to change its policy in regard to how it handles these appeals. This is as a result of the push back they are getting when the average waiting time is 500 days.
If you or a loved one is seeking Social Security Disability Insurance in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Social Security Administration Seeks Shortcut Through Massive Disability Backlog, May 6, 2016, Huffington Post, Arthur Delaney
More Blog Entries:
Allensworth v. Colvin: SSDI Hearings and Appeals, April 1, 2016, Boston SSDI Lawyer Blog