Access Disability Advocates

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The application process While many Social Security disability claims are denied at the initial level, how you approach the application process remains very important and a carefully considered application can be the difference in securing a favorable decision right away or waiting several years for an Administrative Law Judge to hear your case.

At Access Disability Advocates, we know that first impressions matter and we are committed to helping you with the entire process from putting forth the best initial application possible to forcefully defending you on appeal.

In New York State, the average case takes from 4 to 6 months before you receive an initial decision. The process begins either by completing an online application or scheduling a phone or office appointment with the Social Security Administration. The most important information to have on hand is the last date that you worked, your work history for the last 15 years, and a list of all of the medical providers that have treated you for all conditions starting a year before you were unable to work.

The appeals process In New York State, when an initial application is denied, you have 60 days to appeal the decision. You are expected to complete an HA-501 Request for Hearing and an SSA-3441 Disability Report Appeal which is similar to the Adult Disability Report that was completed at the start of your application. Fortunately, many appeals can be initiated online through the online services section of the Social Security Administration's website or our office would be happy to help file the appeal on your behalf.

One of the most difficult parts of the appeals process is the waiting. While it varies from state to state and region to region, it can take up to 18 months from the time you appeal to your hearing date. This is one reason why it is so important to file an application right away, because the sooner you are in queue for your hearing the better.

While waiting for your hearing, our office will continue to gather your medical records for submission to the Social Security Administration so as soon as a hearing date can be scheduled your case is ready to go.

It is very important during this stage that you stay in treatment and provide us with any updates to your medical conditions as in some cases this can be used to expedite your case.

How ALJ hearings work A formal hearing is held in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) from the SSA. Whether your case has 50 or 5,000 pages of medical evidence, the ALJ will have reviewed your entire case including legal briefs submitted by our office arguing your case. This is by far the most thorough review of your case by the SSA and, for many claimants, the first real opportunity for a favorable decision.

Before the hearing takes place, we will do a thorough review of your case make certain that all relevant evidence to your disability gets into the record for review. Once your hearing is scheduled, we will work with you directly to prepare for the kinds of questions that the ALJ is likely to ask you and how you can frame your answers in a way that makes sense to them. Because each ALJ has their own style and preferences, having a representative familiar with the ALJ who will be at your hearing can make a big difference in your chance of success. We pride ourselves on staying local so we always know your judge well.

At most hearings, there will also be a vocational expert hired by the SSA. They are an impartial party there to assist with answering questions from the ALJ and your representative to determine if any jobs may exist in the national economy that you are capable of performing. Having an experienced representative at your hearing to cross-examine the vocational expert is a critical part of receiving a fair and just decision.

What happens after the hearing In most cases, a decision is not made during the hearing itself.

Frequently, a post hearing brief is submitted by our office to rebut vocational or medical expert testimony and to further support the case. In some cases, we will request that the ALJ sends you for additional testing at the expense of the SSA or that a supplemental hearing be held.

In most cases, an ALJ will send shorthand of the decision to an attorney for the SSA who writes the final decision, although how much of the decision is written by the decision-writing attorney and how much is written by the ALJ varies from judge to judge. This process can be as short as 30 days, or take many months depending on the complexity of the case and the backlog of decisions that need to be written.

Once finalized, the SSA will send copies of the decision to both you and your representative. Within 60 days of a favorable decision, the SSA will send out a Notice of Award (NOA) letter explaining the breakdown of the benefits you will be receiving, including your expected monthly benefit as well as any retro benefits due you. It is not unusual to receive a check from the SSA before you receive the NOA letter, but the SSA can take as long as 60 days from issuing the NOA to mailing out your first check. We recommend that you set up direct deposit with the SSA before you receive your NOA, to further expedite payment.

Call us (518)-377-4204 To discuss SSD and SSI claims or appeals, please call us at (518) 377-4204
or email us through our contact page.

The initial consultation is free and we never charge a fee until we win your case.

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