People with disabilities, or individuals who obtain a disability while working, deserve special care and treatment. It is a direct violation of American principles and laws to discriminate against people with disabilities. Due to this kind of discrimination, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 to prohibit the discrimination of the disabled in employment, housing, education, and access to public services. The ADA legislature gives civil rights proctection to people with disabilities similar to those rights provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex national origin, age, and religion.
The Americans with Disabilities Act categorizes a disability as any of the following:
1. A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major
life activities of the individual.
2. A record of such physical or mental impairment.
3. Being regarded as having such an impairment.
Do I Qualify?
If you have worked and paid Social Security taxes for five of the last ten years, and you are now totally disabled due to an illness or injury, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits.
How Do I Apply?
Either go in person to the local Social Security office or phone the regional Social Security office, to file your initial application for disability benefits. Expect your first application to be denied. Most initial applications are denied. If you have not already contacted an attorney, this would be the time to consult with one. If your initial application for benefits is denied, you must ask for a reconsideration within 60 days. Most disability cases are denied again after the reconsideration appeal. If you are denied again, you must then request a hearing within 60 days. At this hearing you (or you and your attorney) will present your disability claim to an Administrative Law Judge. This judge hears testimony and reviews your doctor’s reports, your own records and your application. The judge will usually take several months or longer before issuing a decision in your case.
Each claim is different. A short document such as this one cannot completely prepare you to present your case, and an attorney cannot determine in advance how a judge will rule in a case. There are, however, some simple rules to follow:
- Always tell the truth.
- Never exaggerate your medical problems, but never minimize them either.
- Provide all relevant details and specific examples but don’t ramble in your testimony.
- Continue to see your own doctor on a regular basis throughout your claim. Long periods of time with no medical treatment could be used as evidence that you were not disabled during that time.
- Don’t worry. Your attorney will be there to help you if you forget something or don’t bring out the necessary details at your administrative hearing.
What Can An Attorney Do For Me?
We prefer to be called in on a Social Security Disability claim right at the beginning so that we can advise you and help to protect your rights throughout the Social Security process. We can assist you at both the initial application stage and at the reconsideration stage, as well as at your formal hearing with the Administrative Law Judge.
What we can do:
- Help you obtain the proper reports from your physicians and specialists.
- Assist you in keeping records that will detail your condition and the extent of your disability for the judge.
- Monitor the status of your claim as it moves through the complicated Social Security Administration system.
- Request further medical evidence from your doctors, if necessary.
- Deliver an opening statement on your behalf at the administrative hearing.
- Ask you the necessary questions at the hearing to present your case in the most effective manner.
- Lay the foundation for a remand or reversal on appeal if the Administrative Law Judge decides against you.
- Verify that the monthly amount and beginning date of benefits are correct.
We will be pleased to assist you with any questions you have regarding Social Security Disability.