Friday, August 15, 2008

Negotiating Disability Benefits

While there is far more latitude for structuring settlements in connection with claims under individual and group disability insurance policies and plans, disability benefits can also be negotiated where Social Security Disability are at issue.

I represent 56 year old claimant who received a partially favorable initial decision. She alleged that she became disabled on March 14, 2005, but the State agency said the evidence supported an onset date of May 1, 2007. Therefore, the only issue on appeal was when the claimant became disabled.

In order to avoid a hearing, I submitted comments and medical records in support of the claimant’s request for a fully favorable decision on the record (“OTR”). I called the staff attorney assigned to prepare the case for hearing to discuss the medical evidence and the OTR. I persuaded the staff attorney that the medical records showed that the claimant had been disabled since at least March 2006.

My discussions allowed me to present my client with two choices. The claimant could wait for a hearing where the judge could assess her testimony to determine if the subjective evidence justified the March 2005 onset date. Alternatively, the claimant could avoid the two year wait for a hearing by amending the onset date to March 2006, and immediately be approved OTR. My client chose the OTR.

No comments: