Have you been unable to work at your current employer because of a chronic injury? Can you not find any other work due to this same condition? Are you feeling frustrated because you can’t provide for your family?
If you believe you are disabled and are unable to continue working due to your medical or mental health condition, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits (SSI or SSDI). But navigating the complex application and approval processes can be frustrating. The attorneys at Crystle-Allen Law, LLC can help streamline the process, walking you through each step of the application, filing, and appeals process.
How Do I Know If I Qualify?
Social Security has established a lengthy application and review process to determine whether an individual qualifies for disability benefits. During their review, they want to determine the severity of your condition, how your condition impacts your ability to perform your job, and whether you can hold any other job. This means that Social Security will make an individual determination of your condition, but it also means you need help to demonstrate how your condition is debilitating.
At our initial meeting, our attorney will listen to your story, ask questions about your condition, and help you better express your disability and how it limits your functional activity. We’ll help you gather all your medical records and fill out your application. We’ll even connect with your doctors and care providers, educate them on the standards Social Security requires for disability, and obtain the proper documentation.
What If I Get Rejected?
If you’ve applied for Social Security Disability on your own and you were denied, do not worry. Most people are denied at this stage – around 68% of applications in Pennsylvania! A denial does not mean you are not disabled: it just means that specific evaluator felt you did not present enough evidence to demonstrate the severity of your condition. This is when it helps to have an experienced attorney on your side. Our lawyers know what to do to appeal your denial, prepare the right documentation, and get you the benefits you need.
Often, a claim is denied because of inadequate medical records. We will contact your doctors and care providers directly, help them better understand the wording and requirements Social Security is looking for, and obtain letters from them on your behalf. Once we have adequate documentation, we will appeal the decision and get a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
Appealing to the Administrative Law Judge
When you appeal your rejection, your case will go before an Administrative Law Judge. This hearing is like many other legal proceedings, with lawyers, witnesses, evidence, and a judge making a determination on your case. This is the most important stage in your journey, as you can share the story of your condition and its effects before a judge.
During this hearing, you’ll want us on your side. We know the system, the judges, and the procedure of these hearings; we’ve been there hundreds of times. We will call witnesses, present medical records as evidence, and make sure your story gets heard. This lets you focus solely on telling your story and describing your condition.
How Long Does It Take to Get Social Security Benefits?
The time it takes to get approved for Social Security benefits varies on a case-by-case basis. Filling out paperwork and tracking down medical records can take some time; this can be sped up by letting our staff take care of talking to your doctors. Once your application is filed, it can take 45 - 90 days before you learn of Social Security’s decision.
The appeal process can add 12 - 18 months, depending on the judge’s schedule. During this time, we will interview witnesses, prepare you for your testimony and cross-examination, and make sure you are receiving the proper treatment.
What Documents Do I Need to Produce?
Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits involves producing a wide variety of documents, including your personal information, your job history, and your medical records concerning your disabling condition. We can walk you through this step, making sure all your documentation is in order.
Social Security number
Birth certificate or proof of citizenship
If a veteran, your military discharge papers
Your most recent W-2 (if self-employed, use your most recent tax return)
Your work history over the last 15 years, including contact information and description of each job
Information about any workers’ compensation claim you may have filed
A history of your disabling condition, including when it started and how it limits your work
All medical records relating to your condition
Lab and test results
Information about all medications you are currently taking
Information on treatments you have received
Contact information for the doctors, clinics, and care facilities that have treated you, along with the dates of your visits
It is important to make sure this documentation is in order; any missing files may result in delaying the decision on your case. Our attorneys will make sure your paperwork and any relevant documents are filed in a timely manner. We will even work with your doctors and medical staff, educating them on the standards Social Security requires for disability.
What Forms Do I Need to Fill Out?
When applying for Social Security Disability Benefits, there are several key forms you need to fill out to start your claim. The helpful staff at Crystle-Allen Law, LLC can help you navigate through and fill out the right paperwork for your specific case. We will sit down with you as you complete this application, answering any questions you might have as they appear.
Some of the forms you need for your application include:
Application for Disability Insurance Benefits (SSA-16-BK)
Adult Disability Report (SSA-3368-BK)
Work History Report (SSA-3369-BK)
Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration (SSA-827-BK)
What Are the Steps Involved in Filing a Claim?
The Social Security Administration has a lengthy process to evaluate claims of disability. A long process means more time before you start receiving your benefits. This is why it is vital to start the claim process as soon as possible. The benefits of a lengthy process are the opportunities to appeal a decision. Your claim does not end at an initial rejection; we have several occasions to present your claim again to additional parties. Our attorneys are experienced in the application and appeal process and know how to get your claim approved.
Here are the general steps in applying for and receiving Social Security Disability Benefits:
Application: This involves collecting all the paperwork, work history, and medical documentation relevant to your claim. Our attorneys will make sure all your paperwork is in order and sent directly to the Social Security Administration.
Evaluation: Your claim is evaluated by the Disability Determination Service (DDS), based on their 5-step criteria. If your claim is approved, you will begin receiving benefits. If your claim is rejected at this step, we will then apply for reconsideration or an administrative hearing.
Reconsideration: If you apply for reconsideration, your claim is sent to a new party not involved in the initial decision. They will evaluate your claim using the same 5-step criteria and make their own determination. They may approve your claim, thus overturning the previous evaluation; they may also reject your claim, giving you the option to request a hearing.
Administrative Hearing: If your reconsideration is rejected, we will ask for an appeal by an Administrative Law Judge, where we will present our case for your disability claim. Our attorneys, representing you before the Judge, will present relevant documentation, written evaluations from your doctor, and even witness testimony to support your claim. They will make sure you get a fair hearing. The Judge will then make a determination of your claim.
Additional appeals: If the Administrative Law Judge denies your claim, there are additional levels of appeal at our disposal. We’ll be there every step of the journey, ensuring your story gets heard.
There are many avenues for approving your disability claim after it is initially rejected. At each step in this process, your claim can be approved, and you start receiving the benefits owed to you.
If you believe you are disabled and unable to continue earning a living, you need a lawyer to help you apply for and receive Social Security Disability Benefits. If you have already applied and been rejected by Social Security, you need an experienced attorney who won’t give up but will appeal the rejection and fight for you until you get approved.
If you think you deserve to collect Social Security benefits, call us today at 717-393-0600. The sooner you call, the more we can help.
How Do I Choose the Right Social Security Lawyer?
It can be frustrating to navigate the complexities of Social Security Disability benefits (SSI / SSDI) on your own. That’s why you want a lawyer who is familiar with the intricacies of the system, who stays current with changes in the laws, and who can take care of filing all the forms and paperwork. Plus, you want someone who will represent you before the Social Security Administration hearing and any subsequent appeals.
At Crystle-Allen Law, LLC, we focus on assisting individuals with their Social Security claims. We streamline the process, making sure all the paperwork, forms, and medical documents are handled the right way. And we will be with you every step of the journey, even representing you before the judge at an administration hearing. If you think you deserve to collect Social Security benefits, call us today at 717-393-0600. The sooner you call, the more we can help.
Is There a Fee to Consult With an Attorney About My Case?
No. At Crystle-Allen Law, LLC, we provide a free consultation. This can be done either by telephone or in person depending on the circumstances. We will review your case without any charge to you and advise you if we feel that we can represent you and pursue a case on your behalf.
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About Our Law Firm
Get the legal representation you need from the professionals at Crystle-Allen Law, LLC. We provide personalized attention, taking the time to thoroughly understand your case in order to formulate a positive and results-driven strategy.
We have over 50 years of combined experience and are members of the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, American Bar Association, American Association for Justice, Pennsylvania Association for Justice and Pennsylvania Bar Association.