If it is title 16 SSI, it would be monthly payments subject to certain offsets plus the medical benefits. If it is disability insurance under title 2, it would be monthly benefits based upon how much the individual has paid into the Social Security system plus Medicare benefits.
Who Generally Qualifies For Social Security Disability?
Anyone who has been found disabled under the Social Security act that meets the medical criteria and in SSI cases income and resources criteria. In disability insurance, you also have to have earned enough more credits in your lifetime in order to be insured under the program. SSI eligibility is based on income/resources.
If I Am Approved And Meet The Criteria, How Soon Should My Disability Benefits Begin?
It depends. After a hearing, it can take anywhere from 30 to 120 days (average) to receive a written decision from an Administrative Law Judge. This is because the ALJ does not write the decision. The case goes into a “writing pool” and it will depend on what writer is assigned to the case – some have large caseloads, or they may go on vacation, etc.
What Percentage Or How Often Are The Disability Hearings Or Appeals Approved?
At the initial level, approximately 75% of claims are denied. At the reconsideration level, approximately 88% of claims are denied. If a client is denied, we appeal. We request a live hearing before an administrative law judge where you will have an opportunity to explain your case. A person can research the statistics associated with different judges on www.ssa.gov, but there are a lot of variables to consider when determining whether or not a hearing or appeal will be approved.
What Actually Happens At A Disability Hearing?
At a disability hearing, the claimant and I sit close to one another at a table, while the judge is seated on the bench. A court reporter will be seated to the side of the judge and will be taking notes and recording all testimony. The hearing is informal, but it is under oath. It is not videotaped, which means that hand motions and facial gestures will not be captured. In order for it to be clear on the transcript, the claimant must describe the body part that is affected by the medical condition. The hearing will begin when the judge opens it and swears in the witnesses. The judge may ask for an opening statement and then begin to take testimony from the claimant or instruct the claimant’s attorney to do so. Once the claimant has finished testifying, the judge will hear testimony from vocational and/or medical experts.
If there is a medical expert at the hearing, the judge will ask them to summarize the medical evidence and whether or not the claimant satisfied specific medical criteria that fall within the regulations. If the medical expert testifies the claimant does not satisfy those requirements, the judge will then ask them to give their opinion on the claimant’s limitations. Your attorney will be given the opportunity to cross-examine the medical expert.
In addition, a vocational expert will be asked to classify or characterize the claimant’s past relevant work, which should include anything that they did at substantial, gainful activity levels in the previous 15 years. The judge will then pose a series of hypothetical questions containing the limitations that the judge wants the vocational expert to consider. For example, the judge might ask the following:
“I want you to assume an individual with the same age, educational background, and past relevant work as the claimant who can lift 10 pounds occasionally and less than 10 pounds frequently, can sit for up to six hours in an eight-hour work day, can stand and walk a total of two hours in an eight-hour work day, and due to severe depression is limited to understanding, remembering and carrying out simple instructions, making simple decisions, interacting on an occasional basis with co-workers, supervisors, and the general public, and can handle changes in a routine work setting.”
Based on the limitations, the vocational expert will tell the judge whether or not the claimant can return to their past relevant work, and if not, whether or not there are other jobs available within the parameters of those limitations. It is important to understand that the judge will know how to elicit testimony from the vocational expert in a way that does or does not eliminate all jobs. The judge will also allow the attorney an opportunity to cross-examine the vocational expert.
Once the judge has finished taking everyone’s testimony, they may ask the attorney whether or not they would like to make a closing statement. Afterward, the hearing will be adjourned. Sometimes the judge will keep the record open in order to receive additional properly notified evidence.
For more information on Social Security Benefits In Texas, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (214) 373-3761 today.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.