Friday, December 10, 2010

SSA Delays

Statistics from the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) state that the majority of Social Security Disability (“SSD”) claims are denied initially. The next step in the process is either reconsideration, or a hearing. In some places, such as New York, reconsideration has been eliminated, which is no real concern because few cases were approved at that stage. The newest SSA statistics state that it takes an average of 426 days to process a claim at the hearing level.

Given the time frames typically associated with SSD claims, it makes sense to pursue them as aggressively as possible as soon as possible. That is why I always try to obtain and submit multiple supporting medical opinions before the SSA makes its initial decision.

I represent a 47 year old former fire marshal and dispatcher whose SSD application was approved in three months after being considered at the initial stage. Among other things, I submitted reports from the physiatrist, internist, and podiatrist that explained why the claimant’s medical conditions prevented him from being able to perform the physical demands of any type of work.

While the claimant had severe injuries, he was under 50 years of age, which is a significant reason that leads to claims being denied initially. It is likely that the claimant’s SSD application may have been approved at the hearing stage if only one of his doctors’ supporting reports had been submitted. However, having submitted three supporting medical reports apparently explains why the claimant’s application was approved so quickly at the initial stage.

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