Common Mistakes in Appealing Your Disability Denial

If your initial Social Security Disability application was denied, DON’T GIVE UP!!  Most initial Social Security disability applications are denied.  In fact, Social Security only approves about 30% of all initial disability applications.  But, it’s important to note that a larger number of appealed claims are approved each year.  Read on for common mistakes in appealing your disability denial:

There are many reasons that Social Security claims get denied.  Sometimes the claim file is not up-to-date or it is incomplete and missing a key piece of evidence.  It may be that the claims examiner was overly conservative in the review process or simply made a mistake.  Regardless of the reason for the denial, when you appeal your claim, you will likely get the opportunity to present your case to a judge.  The hearing judge, or Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), will ask you questions and can do a more thorough analysis of your claim.  As a result, the hearing will usually give you the best chance for success with your disability claim.

Here is a list of common mistakes that people applying for Social Security Disability make on their appeals:

Not Contacting A Lawyer Until The Hearing Is Scheduled

We see a lot of disability applicants who wait until they receive notice of their hearing date before they contact us.  The problem with waiting so long is that a Social Security Disability appeal takes a good bit of time to prepare for.  For a Social Security Disability appeal, the team at the Ritchie Law Firm usually does the following:

  • Meets with you and conducts a detailed interview;
  • Reviews your entire Social Security Disability file (including medical records, vocational assessments, and other important information);
  • Determines whether there is missing evidence;
  • Orders, reviews, and submits this evidence to the Social Security Administration;
  • Drafts a pre-hearing brief for the Administrative Law Judge;
  • Prepares you, as well as any other witnesses, to testify at the hearing.

A hearing notice with the date of the hearing is usually sent to the applicant about 20 days before the hearing.  Because of the amount of preparation involved, it is incredibly difficult (and practically impossible) to be completely prepared for a hearing within 20 days time.

It will work out best for you to contact a disability lawyer in the early stages of the appeal process.

Thinking You Can’t Afford To Hire A Lawyer

When you’re not getting a pay check and you have medical expenses in addition to your living expenses, the last thing you want to do is add lawyers’ fees on top of it all.  But, it’s important to know that your disability lawyer only gets paid a fee if you are awarded benefits.

So, for example, if you hire the Ritchie Law Firm to handle your Social Security Disability claim, you will not owe us a fee unless we win your claim for you!  We understand that you are not able to work, and we may be able to guide you to helpful resources in your community.

Not Asking For An On The Record Decision

When it is obvious that a Social Security Disability claim should have won at the application level, an on-the-record (OTR) decision can be requested.  When an OTR is requested, if the judge finds that your evidence supports that you are disabled, then you might be awarded benefits without the need for a hearing.  In some cases, an OTR may save you time and get you a quicker award of benefits.

Not Saying Enough At Your Hearing

Many people applying for Social Security Disability go into the hearing with the attitude that they should say as little as possible.  This may be the right approach in certain situations.  But, it is often the wrong approach for disability hearings.  Remember, you are asking the government to give you something — to do something for you.  To be successful at the hearing, you need to give the Administrative Law Judge enough facts, details, as well as explanations in your testimony to make it obvious to the judge that awarding you disability benefits is the right decision.

THIS IS IMPORTANT — While it’s important to make certain that the judge has all the facts needed to determine whether to award you disability benefits, if you are represented by the Ritchie Law Firm, we will take all the guesswork out of the equation for you.  Your attorney will guide you through the entire hearing process and directly ask you the questions that the judge will need to know.

What Makes Ritchie Law Firm Different?

Many Virginia lawyers say they practice Social Security Disability law.  But, most of those lawyers have not had years of experience winning Social Security Disability cases.  That’s what makes us different.  At the Ritchie Law Firm, we have a team of lawyers who have the experience of handling Social Security Disability cases and WINNING.  Sure, we also handle personal injury cases.  But, Social Security Disability cases are a different beast.  And, we know how to handle them.

If you have been denied Social Security Disability benefits, our disability team will review your denial letter for FREE.  Then, with no obligation and NO STRINGS ATTACHED, we’ll tell you our game plan for winning your case.

If you want your disability case handled by a team of lawyers trained to handle this difficult area of the law that few lawyers know the first thing about, your search is over.  Whatever stage of applying for benefits you are in, whether you haven’t yet applied or you’ve been denied, we are happy to help.  Click here to give us some details about your case.

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