Disability lawyers in St Louis Missouri play an important role in helping people obtain benefits. If you are disabled and unable to work, you must be thorough during every step of the application process. As such, it is extremely important to understand exactly how that process works in order to increase your odds of success.
Time Is of the Essence
As soon as you become disabled, you should contact disability lawyers in St Louis Missouri for assistance. It can take several months for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to reach a decision, which means the sooner you file, the faster you are able to receive benefits. Filing in a timely manner also works in your favor by making it easier for you to obtain evidence of your disability, something that is especially important if you were injured in an accident.
SSA Field Office Review
The first step involves an application, which is sent to the Disability Determination Services division of the SSA’s local field office. A representative from this division will then review this application and make an initial determination. Some of the information he or she will review includes your employment status, age, and Social Security benefits payment history. Guidelines from the Social Security Administration’s “Blue Book” will be used to determine if your condition is one already recognized by the agency. If the application is considered favorably, it will then be sent to a state office for further review; otherwise, you will receive a denial letter and be given a timeline for appeal.
At the state level, an examiner will take an even closer look at your medical records to determine if your condition meets the requirements set forth by the SSA. It is during this step of the process that an approval or denial will be made. An examiner may request additional medical records, or ask that you complete a physical examination as well. You will receive a letter in the mail telling you of the examiner’s decision. If your benefits are denied, you must then follow the guidelines for filing an appeal that are outlined in this letter.
A formal appeal takes place in front of an Administrative Law Judge, or ALJ. This hearing is similar to a court trial, and will allow you the opportunity to testify, present evidence of your disability, and cross-examine witnesses. While not required, having St Louis Missouri disability lawyers represent you during this phase is highly recommended. These proceedings can quickly become very technical in nature, but having someone who is familiar with the terms used can help level the playing field and provide you with the best possible odds of recovery.
Reason for Process
The application process often seems overwhelming, and rightfully so. The reason for the multi-step process is not to prevent qualified applicants from receiving benefits, but rather to ensure honesty. The goal is to prevent fraud, while also allowing truly qualified individuals to prosper. It is not uncommon for people to be denied benefits initially, so you should not be discouraged if you are turned down during one of the earlier review phases.
Disability Lawyers St Louis Missouri Residents Trust Are Standing By Waiting to Help You
If a disability has you unable to work, contact David Hicks, one of the leading disability lawyers in St Louis Missouri at 314-812-4885.