Monthly Archives

June 2014

Time Limits for Social Security Disability Appeals

By English Blogs

Time Limits for Social Security Disability Appeals

After a decision on your Social Security disability case is made, a Lowell disability attorney wants you to understand the time frames for which an appeal can be made.

Levels of Adjudication

Lowell disability attorney

You should know that there are four levels of administrative judgment of Social Security claims. The initial determination, reconsideration determination, hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) and review by the Appeals Council. Your Lowell disability lawyer knows that after this, a case may by filed in federal court.

Time Limits for Appeals

A Lowell disability attorney would inform you that, with one exception, the time limit to appeal all Social Security disability decisions is 60 days. Taken into consideration is that decisions are actually received five days from the date on the face of the decision. Your Lowell disability lawyer knows that unless there is evidence to the contrary, the effective time limit is 65 days from the date of the decision.

Exception to 65 day Time Limit

As noted by a Lowell disability attorney, the one exception to the 65-day effective time limit applies to appealing an ALJ denial to the Appeals Council after there has been a federal court remand. These appeals have a time limit of 30 days.

Weekend and Holiday Considerations to Time Limits

Another exception to time frame adjustments occurs when the period for requesting the next appellate step ends on a Saturday, Sunday, legal holiday, or any other day which all or part is a non-workday for federal employees by statute or Executive Order. In this case, the period is extended to include the next full workday. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.3(b), 416.120(d).

Determining Date of Mailing

Your Lowell disability attorney would make you aware of the fact that the Social Security Administration (SSA) treats an appeal as filed on the day it receives it. The SSA will use the date a “request or notice is mailed to us by the US mail, if using the date we receive it would result in the loss or lessening of rights. The date shown by a U.S. postmark will be used as the date of mailing. If the postmark is unreadable, or there is no postmark, we will consider other evidence of when you mailed it to us.”20 C.F.R.§ 404.614(b)(2).

Good legal council is important in the appeal process of your Social Security disability case. For a consultation with a Lowell disability attorney, call the office of Gerard A. Palma at 888-295-4955 today.

A Lowell Disability Lawyer Discusses Impairments

By English Blogs

A Lowell Disability Lawyer Discusses Impairments

Lowell Disability Lawyer

There are many stages to being classified as disabled under the guidelines set by the Social Security Administration (SSA). A Lowell disability lawyer can tell you that entering stage three of the process, a claimant must have medical conditions and symptoms that match similar findings outlined in the SSA’s Listing of Impairments.

The list provides examples of medical conditions and findings that are considered to constitute disability under the SSA’s guidelines. However, even if a claimant’s medical problem doesn’t match identically, an attorney can argue in four situations that there is a medical issue equal to something in the list.

The Four Situations

A Lowell disability attorney can tell you one way to show that an impairment is equivalent to one in the listing is when a claimant doesn’t have one essential finding in the list for a specific medical condition but has others.

Another way to meet the Listings is when a claimant has all the necessary findings but some of them may not be considered very serious. As Lowell disability lawyer can tell you, a third way is when a claimant’s medical condition may not be defined at all in the listing but is as serious as a comparable condition that is described in the listing. Finally, a claimant may have a combination of medical conditions that don’t match any in the listing but as a whole are comparable to the listing.

In the end, there is a way to determine whether one claimant with certain medical conditions not in the list is as disabled as another with ones that are an identical match to the listing. An administrative law judge can determine whether a claimant’s medical condition is comparable to the listing if a report from a medical expert, who is hired by the SSA, is presented.

Contact a Lowell Disability Attorney for Assistance

If you have filed a disability claim and have questions, contact Gerard A. Palma, a Lowell disability lawyer, at 888-295-4955.

Physician Testimony about Disability

By English Blogs

Physician Testimony about Disability

As a doctor, do you worry about saying the “wrong thing” on disability forms? It would be natural if this is the case, for in a sense it is thought that a physician’s reputation and ethics are on the line when they fill out such forms. Talk to a Lawrence Social Security disability lawyer and learn what is appropriate to write when you help patients who are applying for benefits.

A Lawrence Social Security Disability Lawyer to Ease Your Concerns

Lawrence Social Security Disability Your Lawrence Social Security disability lawyer knows that doctors worry about decreasing their patients’ chances of getting benefits. Often physicians fear that saying patients can do any type of work-related activity will make them ineligible for government assistance.

However, this is unlikely to be a concern. From years of experience, a Lawrence Social Security disability lawyer knows that patients don’t have to be confined to bed to qualify for benefits.

A Lawrence Social Security Disability Attorney Discusses the “Worst Case Scenario”

Sometimes doctors don’t realize that the worst thing they can do for a patient’s case is say that his or her condition is worse than it truly is. This results in the doctor’s opinion being of little help when the SSA (Social Security Administration) goes to determine whether the patient meets their definition of “disabled.”

Get More Information from a Lawrence Social Security Disability Lawyer

As a doctor, do you worrying about saying the wrong thing on disability forms? Talk to a Lawrence Social Security disability lawyer. Call Gerard A. Palma at 888-295-4955.

Should I Apply?

By Three Cases

Should I apply for disability?

If your answers match the ones below, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is likely to award you benefits.

  • Are you gainfully employed? No
  • Do you have a severe impairment? Yes
  • Will your impairment last 12 months or result in death? Yes
  • Does your disability meet one of SSA’s listed impairments? If yes, you qualify. If no …
  • Are you able to work? No

How long do disability appeals take?

Initial Determinations typically take approximately 120 days. Reconsideration Determinations will typically take 120-150 days and hearings are usually scheduled 12-15 months following the Reconsideration Determination.

*These are approximate times that vary by location.

When should I apply for disability benefits?

The decision about when to apply for Social Security Disability benefits varies in each case. If you are considering applying, you should speak to an experienced Lowell disability lawyer as soon as possible.

What does a disability lawyer do?

The big-picture answer is: analyze what needs to be proven to win benefits, figure out how to prove it, and gather the necessary evidence. Some of the specific tasks are:

  • Obtain reports from treating doctors that are consistent with Social Security regulations
  • Refer claimants to specialists for additional reports that answer questions raised by Social Security regulations
  • Obtain a vocational expert’s evaluation of the claimant’s ability to work
  • Ask that a prior application for benefits be reopened
  • Seek a waiver of a time limit
  • Request subpoenas to insure the presence of crucial witnesses or documents
  • Advise the claimant on how best to prepare for and testify at the hearing
  • Object to improper evidence or procedures at the hearing
  • Cross-examine adverse witnesses
  • Present a closing statement
  • Submit a written summary of the evidence and argument
  • If the claimant wins, make sure the SSA correctly calculates benefits
  • If the claimant loses, request review of the hearing decision by the Appeals Council

How long will I wait for a disability hearing?

It can take up to two years from application until a hearing is held and a decision issued, but the time varies from state to state.

What are hearings like?

They are private, held in a small conference room, and last an hour or so. You will be asked about your education, training, work experience, symptoms, limitations, and daily activities.

What if I don’t file my disability appeal on time?

If you have not filed your appeal within 65 days of the date on your denial letter, you have to start over with a new claim. However, in some circumstances you can seek permission to file late. Therefore, you should contact a Lowell disability lawyer as soon as possible.

What is the biggest mistake made by disability applicants?

Because the majority of appeals are granted at a hearing, failing to appeal a denial to the hearing level is the number one error … and unfortunately very common.

More detailed information on these and other common claimant questions is available in the Social Security library below.

Gerard A. Palma, Esq.

Palma Law Offices, P.C.

Lowell Disability Attorney

45 Merrimack Street, Suite 330

Lowell, Massachusetts 01852