According to data from Atticus Law, only 42 percent of Social Security disability applications in Virginia are approved on initial application. This low acceptance rate is frustrating for Virginia residents who are suffering. Not to mention, it adds stress to the already present challenges people living with disabilities are living in their day-to-day lives.
If your Social Security disability claim was denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA), you are not alone. Many people struggle to receive supplemental security income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and routinely receive denied claims.
On the positive side, if you are initially denied, you are not out of options. The knowledgeable legal team at Montagna Law has compiled some of the most common reasons your application may have been denied, how to improve your chance of winning your benefits on appeal, and how a skilled Virginia Social Security disability lawyer can help make this complex process easier. Contact our Virginia law firm today at 877-622-8100 to schedule a free consultation.
As a Virginia resident, you will need to follow the SSA’s procedures to apply for Social Security disability. This includes filling out the proper paperwork and including supplemental documentation. You can apply online, by phone, in person, or with the help of an experienced and knowledgeable Social Security disability attorney. Generally, you will be asked the following:
The length of time to obtain a decision will vary from applicant to applicant but generally takes roughly three to six months for applicants to receive an initial decision. Most people will get a denial, but this doesn’t mean you should give up hope. You can – and should – appeal a denial decision.
Unfortunately, as much as Social Security disability benefits are designed to help people in need, the SSA is a structure of denial. Essentially, what this means is the federal agency is not “motivated” to approve claims. Instead, it puts the burden directly upon the claimant to support their disability.
If you have a disability, it is your responsibility to actively seek treatment with the appropriate specialists. However, even those who do seek proper treatment are routinely denied by the SSA. Common reasons for denials include:
The Montagna Law legal team is here to help oversee your application and assemble favorable documentation to increase your chances of approval. In addition to helping clients understand the medical information needed, we assist in collecting and presenting the relevant medical documentation.
Yes, if you are a veteran, you are able to also receive Social Security disability benefits in conjunction with VA disability benefits. These are two separate types of benefits and must be applied for individually. The two types of benefits are not affected by each other, so what it will come down to is your eligibility for each program.
One of the most significant reasons why disability benefits are denied is due to a lack of sufficient medical evidence. Many people assume the SSA will obtain the required medical evidence necessary to approve a claim. This is not true. The way the system is designed, the SSA does only the bare minimum to get supportive evidence to approve applications.
Certain disabilities are harder to prove than others. These include chronic migraines, back and neck injuries, fibromyalgia, various neurocognitive disorders, depression, eating disorders, and PTSD, to name a few. This list is not exhaustive. Working with an attorney can help with difficult-to-prove cases.
Individuals suffering a terminal illness will receive expedited status for their SSDI claims by obtaining certification from a doctor. The federal agency defines terminal illnesses as “medical conditions that are untreatable and expected to result in death.” Terminally ill cases are handled by the SSA’s Terminal Illness Program (TERI).
Yes, your age affects a denial of Social Security disability benefits. According to the SSA, age groups are as follows: under age 50, ages 55-59, and over 60. If you are younger than 50, it may be more difficult to obtain disability. Generally speaking, the older you get, the easier it is to be approved.
Many believe filing a new claim to try to receive Social Security benefits is better than appealing. This is incorrect; do not file a new claim. In some situations, SSA will deny a claim based on a prior denial.
Due to this, it is important for you to go through the appeals process instead. If you opt for a new application, it may result in a loss of entitlement to certain past periods of benefits. Also, the percentage of receiving a favorable decision is higher at the Hearing Level than it is during the initial stages of a disability benefits claim.
You are allowed to appeal a disability denial decision a total of four times. Each step is a little different, and it’s important to follow all federal instructions. The following is an overview of each step of the appeal process.
The first step is to ask the SSA to reconsider its decision. Do this within 60 days of receiving a denial. The probability of a reversal in the federal agency’s decision is very low. Remember, the system is designed to push applicants away, not approve them, but it is a vital step to take.
The second level of appeal is to request a hearing with an administrative law judge. You must do this within 60 days of receiving a denial of your request for reconsideration. Approval rates are higher at this level of appeal.
The third level of appeal is to request a review with SSA’s Appeals Council. To do this, you will need to make the request online or file Form HA-520 with the SSA. Again, this request must be made within 60 days of the last denial. It is also important to understand not all requests will be personally reviewed after being looked at by the Appeals Council.
The final appeal is to file a federal district court action with the U.S. District Court within 60 days of your most recent denial. The court you file in will depend upon where you reside.
The appeals process is tedious, but working with a knowledgeable Virginia disability attorney can greatly relieve this burden.
The SSA does not make filing appeals easy, requiring numerous forms that may vary depending upon your individual circumstances, including your level of substantial gainful activity (SGA), the reason for your denial (e.g., medical or non-medical reasons), and other factors. To determine what forms you need to file an appeal, visit this government’s website or speak with a knowledgeable Virginia disability attorney.
Fortunately, there are some actions you can take to improve your chance of winning your appeal. Keep in mind that if you receive any paperwork from the Social Security Administration, you must complete it by designated deadlines. Tips to follow that can help fully support your case include the following:
Also, consider the fact anything you put in writing and send to the SSA becomes a part of your permanent record. The agency can use any details you provide against you as a basis for issuing a denial. Working with a lawyer greatly strengthens your chances of being approved for disability benefits.
The skilled attorneys at Montagna Law are here to help you navigate this complex process and complete all the necessary paperwork. We will also help you keep track of your medical treatments and notify the SSA of any changes.
Filing a disability benefits claim with the SSA on your own reduces your chances of being approved. According to a study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, you are three times as likely to be granted benefits if you are represented by someone else, such as a lawyer.
Our office has the ability to meticulously work on your claim. We can access Electronic Record Express (ERE), an online platform that allows us to review aspects of your Social Security file. Other things we can do include:
This is a platform that is not available to you, only to representatives. Our attorneys understand precisely how to present a case to provide you best chances of success. This is a process we have done many times and are well-versed in all of SSA’s processes. To start your appeal, connect with our office for a free consultation.
Living with a disability or impairment presents many day-to-day challenges. Not receiving the SSDI benefits you need to cover your living expenses and medical care adds to this burden. The caring attorneys at Montagna Law are here to help you navigate the complex application process and structure of the SSA. We can also take a look at your past work history and see if you have enough work credits to help provide you with a fuller picture of your options.
To learn more about how we can support you, contact us at 877-622-8100 or fill out our online contact form. Montagna Law proudly serves the entire Hampton Roads area, including Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, and Suffolk.
Jon Montagna received a Bachelor of Arts in Literature from American University in Washington D.C. and graduated Cum Laude from the University of Miami School of Law in 1999. Jon practices law in the Hampton Roads Virginia area.