Social Security Disability Lawyer
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Phoenix, Arizona Social Security Disability Lawyer
The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) receives hundreds of thousands of Social Security Disability applications each month, and an Arizona Social Security disability lawyer can help people in Phoenix submit their strongest possible application.
When a disability prevents a person from working, Social Security Disability (SSD) is an essential financial source of help. Unfortunately, recovering these funds without the help of a knowledgeable Social Security disability lawyer can be rather difficult. Contrary to popular belief, a large percentage of Social Security Disability claims are denied by the government. In fact, the majority of applicants are turned down upon their first attempt to file a claim. With this in mind, Arizona residents should seek the help of an experienced Arizona Social Security disability lawyer legal professional who can build a strong case and work to put them in the best position to be approved and receive the monetary benefits they deserve.
If you or a loved one has been denied Social Security Disability on your first try, a Phoenix Social Security Disability lawyer from Dayes Law Firm, P.C. is here to help. With office locations in several states, our firm is able to provide services to clients across the nation.
Our main office in Phoenix is located at 3101 North Central Ave., Suite 1500, and is within minutes of two Social Security Offices. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation so we can review your claim and determine the legal options available to you.
Medical Conditions That Qualify for SSD Benefits
The SSA’s impairment listing manual (also known as the Blue Book) can help you determine if your medical condition qualifies you for SSD disability benefits. The SSD application process is so complex that it takes more than just filling out an online application to see if you qualify. You also need to show your medical condition has been documented with regular visits to your physician, including following through with prescribed treatment.
Your medical condition must also be one that the SSA recognizes as disabling, meaning it prevents you from working and is not anticipated to improve for at least one year.
The following are mental and physical impairments that may qualify for SSD benefits:
- Musculoskeletal problems — These are common bone and muscle impairments such as back injuries, spinal disorders and soft tissue injuries. Examples could include degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis.
- Special senses and speech issues — This includes profound hearing loss in both ears, poor vision that meets the standard for legal blindness, or a speech impairment that causes muteness or stuttering.
- Respiratory disorders — These disorders prevent proper lung function and include COPD Illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema; infections such as pneumonia and tuberculosis; hereditary illnesses such as cystic fibrosis; sleep disorders such as sleep apnea; and lung cancer.
- Cardiovascular conditions — This includes heart conditions such as ischemic heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease, and heart attacks or chronic heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure. An arrhythmia diagnosis can qualify if it causes fainting or other limitations.
- Digestive issues — Severe disorders of the digestive system include inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease. Any bowel disease needs to have caused severe weight loss, chronic anemia, or a physical abnormality such as bowel obstruction or abscess to qualify for SSD.
- Genitourinary disorders — This includes kidney cancer, cancers of the urinary tract or reproductive tract, and chronic renal problems that require dialysis. Any other kidney-related problem must be caused by a particular urinary disorder, kidney issue, or problem with a reproductive organ.
- Hematological disorders — These are common blood disorders such as anemia or bleeding disorders such as hemophilia and blood clots, and blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.
- Skin disorders — This includes skin conditions such as dermatitis, bullous disease, chronic skin infections, and photosensitivity disorders. Skin diseases like psoriasis and eczema may also qualify.
- Endocrine disorders — These disorders cause a hormonal imbalance that can cause various complications in the body. The major glands of the endocrine system include the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal, and pancreas. Pituitary gland disorders, thyroid gland disorders, parathyroid gland disorders, adrenal gland disorders, and pancreatic gland disorders may qualify for benefits.
- Congenital disorders — These disorders affect multiple body systems causing a health impairment that is present at birth. Down Syndrome is the only specific congenital disorder listed by the SSA.
- Neurological disorders — These disorders affect not only the brain but the central nervous system as well, including the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system. Serious cases of epilepsy, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, ALS, and other nerve-based diseases qualify for SSD benefits.
- Mental disorders — This includes depression-related illnesses, anxiety-related issues, and psychotic disorders, as well as autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, mental retardation, and low IQ.
- Cancer — Certain types of cancer qualify depending on how far the cancer has progressed. Advanced stages of bladder or kidney cancer, aggressive brain cancers, colon cancer that is recurrent or inoperable, and esophageal cancer are more likely to qualify for disability benefits.
- Immune system disorders — This includes HIV/AIDS, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other immune system-related medical conditions that affect immune cells and suppress the immune system.
While the above medical conditions are qualifying disabilities, some conditions are more likely to be approved for benefits than others. This is why you need a dedicated attorney by your side with experience in handling SSD claims.
Our Phoenix Social Security Disability lawyers can discuss whether your condition meets a disability listing and if your medical condition is not included in the Blue Book, we can help you determine if you may still be eligible for SSD benefits. Let us review your claim during a risk-free consultation.
Why SSD Claims Are Often Denied
Each year, approximately 60 to 70 percent of initial disability claims are denied by the SSA. There are several reasons why an SSD claim can be denied. However, many applications filed without the assistance of experienced Phoenix Social Security Disability lawyers are denied, usually forcing an extended disability appeal which can last for two or more years.
To improve your chances of having your initial claim for benefits approved, it is important to understand the most common reasons why the SSA denies so many claims. These include the following:
Reason #1: Lack of Solid Medical Evidence
Your SSD claim may be denied if you have not submitted solid medical evidence supporting your disability diagnosis. You need to submit medical records that prove you are unable to work due to your disabling condition. This means showing that your disability has interfered with your ability to work.
Getting in touch with your treating physician to obtain your medical records and sending this documentation to the SSA is your responsibility. The SSA will not send you a physician who will gather the evidence needed to approve your claim for benefits. This is a common misconception. Even if you are required to go in for a medical exam by the Social Security Office, this action alone may not be enough to prove your disability.
In addition to your medical records, you should also send in any doctor’s notes that excuse you from work, work records that suggest a modified work schedule, or records showing the amount of time you have missed from work because of your disability.
Reason #2: Prior Claim Denials
If you have previously been denied benefits, filing a new SSD claim is usually not a better alternative than pursuing an appeal for a denied claim. This is another common misconception. Your new claim can be denied based on your prior denial. Going through the appeals process is often your best course of action to obtain disability benefits.
Reason #3: You Earn Too Much Money
Your application may be denied for disability benefits if your current income exceeds the substantial gainful activity (SGA) allowance by the SSA. In 2019, the SGA amount is $1,220 for non-blind applicants and $2,040 for blind applicants. This only includes money earned from working.
Reason #4: Not Following Prescribed Treatment
If you do not follow the treatment prescribed by your physician, such as taking certain medications or going to physical therapy, your SSD claim will be denied. The SSA will not be able to determine whether or not your medical condition affects your ability to work if you are not following the treatments that your physician prescribed for you.
If you have a valid reason for not following through with your physician’s prescribed treatment, you can address this during the appeals process. Some acceptable excuses for not following treatment include suffering from a mental illness that is so severe that you are unable to follow any prescribed treatment or therapy. Acceptable nonmedical excuses also include not having enough money to pay for treatment or having religious beliefs that prohibit you from the prescribed treatment or therapy. It is in your best interest to have a Social Security disability attorney represent you under these circumstances.
Reason #5: Not Cooperating with the SSA
If you fail to cooperate with the SSA during the application process, you will be denied disability benefits. This includes not providing requested medical records or failing to attend scheduled medical exams. The SSA cannot accept your complaints about pain without an evaluation from a certified physician.
It is vital that you remain in contact with the SSA representative handling your case and respond promptly to all requests. The SSA needs to be able to get in touch with you regularly about the status of your application.
While it is true that initial disability claims are denied more often than they are approved, hopefully knowing why you were denied can help you determine what you need to file a successful appeal. Our Phoenix Social Security Disability lawyers know how frustrating being denied SSD benefits can be. We are ready to provide the legal assistance you need in order to try to obtain the benefits you need.
Types of SSD Claims
Generally speaking, SSD claims are broken up into four main categories. Understanding the differences between claims is essential to successfully applying for benefits. In addition to meeting several criteria outlined by the government, applicants can greatly benefit themselves by utilizing the guidance and legal advice of a skilled and respected legal professional.
These are the four main types of SSD claims:
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
SSDI is a federal government program that provides benefits to workers who have lost the ability to earn an income due to a complete disability. Your medical condition must meet the SSA’s disability requirements and you need to have earned enough work credits.
To qualify for SSDI benefits, you need to have worked at least five years out of the last ten. You must show that your disability is expected to last at least one year or is expected to be life-ending. You must also show that you are unable to perform any work that would be categorized as substantial gainful activity.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
SSI is a federal income supplement program designed to help aged, blind, or disabled people who have little to no income. It also provides cash to meet basic needs for shelter, food, and clothing. SSI benefits can even be paid out to people 65 and older without disabilities who meet the financial limits. To financially qualify for SSI, you must have less than $2,000 worth of total countable assets (or $3,000 for a couple).
Disabled Widows and Widowers Benefits
These benefits provide financial assistance to widows and widowers between the ages of 50 and 60 who develop disabilities within seven years of their spouse’s death.
To apply for benefits after your spouse’s death, you will need to contact your local Social Security office. There are several pieces of documentation required. This includes the death certificate or notice from the funeral home, you and your deceased spouse’s Social Security number, your deceased spouse’s birth certificate, your marriage certificate, and your most recent tax forms.
Disabled Adult Child Benefits
If a child becomes disabled before age 22, he or she may be eligible for disabled adult child benefits if a parent is deceased or starts receiving retirement or disability benefits. The SSA will consider you a disabled “child” because you will be collecting SSDI benefits based on your qualifying parent’s Social Security earnings.
The Phoenix Social Security Disability attorneys from Dayes Law Firm have the knowledge, experience, and available resources necessary to help you obtain the benefits you deserve. You have worked hard, and at Dayes Law Firm, we believe that you must be compensated for your inability to work.
You Need a Phoenix Disability Lawyer for Your Disability Hearing
If you have a hearing that has already been scheduled, call our Phoenix Social Security Disability lawyers immediately with the date and time. Understand that if you appear at a hearing without a disability attorney, the judge will request that you consider adjourning your hearing in order to allow an experienced Social Security lawyer to possibly give you a better chance of winning.
The judge may even require one adjournment so the record is clear you have been given every last opportunity. Then, if your hearing is adjourned, the delay may cost you several more months of waiting before you get the judge’s initial decision. Appearing without experienced counsel can also result in a waiving of your rights or failure to recognize what objections should be raised or preserved in the process.
Social Security Disability Lawyers in Phoenix Can Help
The Phoenix Social Security Disability attorneys at Dayes Law Firm know how to win your SSD claim. We will vigorously cross-examine the government’s medical and vocational witnesses against you. Your claim did not get to the hearing level without evidence in the record which is contrary to your interests, or unless you have failed to meet one of your burdens of proof (possibly due to a legal technicality that your doctor did not realize when writing your medical reports).
Do not take the chance of allowing unfavorable evidence to obtain undue consideration when our attorneys might be able to get that evidence struck from your hearing record. Our attorneys can spot and cure technical defects rapidly and potentially assist you to avoid the SSD hearing process altogether.
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More Information on Social Security Disability Lawyer
Begin Your Application By:
- Making an appointment with an AZ Social Security Office
- Having a consultation with one of our Phoenix Social Security Disability attorneys
- A claims representative is then assigned to your specific case
- The claims representative will determine the type of Arizona disability program you may qualify for
- Your claim is sent to the Disability Determination Service (DDS) for approval or denial
During the SSA’s application process, you will need to provide specific information and documentation to prove that you qualify for disability benefits. This includes the following:
- Details of your work history
- Details of your disability
- Your name, address, and contact information
- Your Social Security number and proof of age
- The contact information of any treating physician
- List of all medications you are currently taking
- Copies of your most recent W-2 form or self-employment tax returns
It is important to organize the necessary paperwork before applying for benefits. This way, your application will have a fighting chance of being accepted from the very beginning.
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Improve Your Chances of Getting Arizona SSD Benefits
Hiring an experienced Phoenix Social Security Disability attorney as soon as your claim is filed can help you:
- Find out if your physician or another doctor will support your claim
- Submit copies of your medical records each time you apply or appeal
- Fully cooperate with the Disability Examiner assigned to your case
- Keep up on the status of your case
- Contact DDS for case updates
- Ensure important Social Security Disability claim deadlines are met
- Maintain a close relationship with people working on your case including the Claims Rep and DDS Examiner
- Possibly avoid re-application or appeals by filing correctly the first time
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What To Do If Your Claim is Denied
If your claim for disability benefits has been denied, you have the legal right to appeal this initial decision. Our skilled Social Security Disability attorneys in Phoenix can help prepare your appeal, fight for your best interests, and guide you through the appeals process.
However, time is of the essence. As we have stated before, you only have 60 days from the day you received notice that your claim had been denied to file an appeal. The sooner you get started on the appeal, the better.
There are four levels of the appeals process you may pursue:
The first step is to file a request for reconsideration. This means that another SSA representative will look over the file you have already submitted. You may add more information or change any information you have already submitted. Original and new evidence will be considered and a determination will be issued.
If you do not agree with the reconsideration decision, the next step is to request a hearing. The hearing will be conducted by an administrative law judge (ALJ) and is usually held within 75 miles of your residence. Before the hearing, you may be asked to provide additional evidence and clarify existing information about your claim.
During the hearing, the ALJ will hear your explanation of why you believe you deserve disability benefits. You can introduce any new evidence or developments in your medical condition that have taken place since you filed your initial SSD claim. You can also bring in witnesses, such as medical or vocational experts, to testify on your behalf. Keep in mind that just as the ALJ will question you, he or she will also question your witnesses.
It is also in your best interest to attend the hearing to explain your case. Your hearing may be conducted in person or in certain situations, by video conference. If you cannot attend a hearing or simply do not want to attend, you must inform the ALJ in writing as to your reasoning as soon as possible.
After the hearing, the ALJ will issue a decision based on all the information you provided in your case and will send you a letter and a copy of the decision.
If you do not agree with the decision, you may request a claim review by the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council may deny your request if it thinks the hearing decision was accurate. Should the Appeals Council decide to review your case, it will decide your case on its own or appoint an ALJ for further review.
If your request for review is denied, the Appeals Council will send a letter explaining why you were denied. If the Appeals Council does review your case and make a decision, you will be notified with a copy of that decision. If your case is sent to an ALJ for further review, you will be sent a letter and notified of that order.
If you do not agree with the Appeals Council’s decision or the Appeals Council’s decision not to review your case, you have the option to file a lawsuit in federal district court. You will be issued a letter from the Appeals Council containing information on how to ask the court to examine your case.
The experienced Phoenix Social Security Disability lawyers at our firm can help provide strong legal representation throughout every step of the appeals process. We will work hard to collect strong evidence and secure expert witness testimony to aid your claim.
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Contact a Phoenix Social Security Disability Lawyer
Dayes Law Firm has years of experience with social security law. Our attorneys have the experience and resources to craft a strong claim and pursue the maximum compensation possible. Call our law firm today at 602-726-2436 to have any disability law questions answered correctly and promptly.
Request a free, no-obligation consultation today to learn what legal options are available for pursuing disability benefits. There are no upfront fees when you work with us and payment is only due if we recover compensation for you.
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