Filing an Application for Disability Benefits
How do you win disability benefits?
If I am determined disabled, how far back will Social Security pay benefits?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition?
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Denial of benefits
How to File for Disability - Tips for Filing
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
Social Security Disability--Permanent Disability
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
Qualifying: What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability?
Applying for disability for Fibromyalgia
Filing for disability with Degenerative Disc Disease
Can I Qualify For Disability on the basis of Depression?
Answers to questions about SSD and SSI disability
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability Status
Hiring a Qualified Disability Lawyer in Louisiana
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
Claimants who are represented on disability claims in Louisiana tend to have a higher rate of approval, a need for fewer appeals, and more favorable "dates of onset" (the date the disability is proven to have begun) that lead to higher back pay benefits.
Representation may be through a disability lawyer or a specialized non-attorney disability representative. Many non-attorney reps are former Social Security Administration Claims Specialists and Disability Examiners with an extended history of working from within the federal system.
A qualified disability representative will have a knowledge of Social Security administrative law, particularly with regard to how claims are approved through the Social Security listings and the medical vocational grid rules. A qualified and competent disability representative or lawyer will also be skilled in the ability to obtain the most relevant case evidence, analyze it correctly, and incorporate it as part of a winning strategy for a claim.
To learn about fees for representation, see: "How do disability lawyers get paid?"
If you are a resident of Louisiana who is considering filing for disability benefits, you will almost certainly wish to consult a qualified attorney specializing in Louisiana state disability law at some point. This is because, while it is no easy task to win disability cases in any state, those filing in Louisiana are even less likely to be awarded disability benefits than applicants living in other states.
Only 31% of all social security disability insurance (SSDI) or supplemental security income (SSI) cases filed in Louisiana win benefits each year, and only about 33% of all appeals (also called requests for reconsideration or review) to the Louisiana department of disability determination services are successful, which means that many, many Louisiana applicants are denied benefits.
Because the odds of winning disability benefits in Louisiana are so unfavorable, you should definitely consult an attorney or non-attorney rep (non-attorney reps are usually individuals who have worked for DDS or the social security administration in the past, and have a great deal of experience in this area) as soon as you feel you need help. A qualified disability attorney can help you gather your medical records, file all of your documents for you on time (this is especially important if you file an appeal with DDS—if you miss their deadline, your appeal is automatically denied).
If you feel confident filing a disability claim with DDS, and would rather forgo legal counsel at the outset of your case, you are not alone. The majority of individuals filing for disability in Louisiana do not retain a lawyer unless their disability application and appeal have failed, and they are facing their second appeal. If your claim for disability benefits is denied, and your reconsideration appeal fails as well, you should definitely get a disability lawyer before your second appeal, which will take place at a hearing before a federal administrative law judge (ALJ). Statistics indicate that judges are significantly (up to 50 percent) more likely to award benefits to those who are represented by a disability lawyer than those who choose to represent themselves. There is little doubt that at this level of consideration a lawyer can make the difference between a loss and a win, and would be well worth the cost to retain his or her services.
Also, keep in mind that it can take up to a year to get a case heard before an ALJ due to backlogs in the system (the number of people filing for disability benefits has greatly increased over the past few years). Given the long wait to be heard and the unfavorable environment for disability cases in Louisiana, it is strongly recommended that applicants take no chances and retain legal counsel before this last chance to appeal their case.
Note: The request for reconsideration appeal step is currently suspended in the state of Louisiana as Louisiana is one of 10 prototype states testing a system in which denied claims move immediately to the hearing level upon appeal. Reconsideration may be reinstated at some point and many consider this likely. In the meantime, a claimant who is denied on a disability application should request, and prepare, for a hearing before a federal administrative law judge.
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Questions and Answers about Social Security Disability and SSI Disability
SSD and SSI are Federal Programs
The title II Social Security Disability and title 16 SSI Disability programs operate under federal guidelines and, therefore, the program requirements--medical and non-medical--apply to all states:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Recent approval and denial statistics for various states can be viewed here:
Social Security Disability, SSI Approval and Denial Statistics by state
Special Section: Tips and Advice for Social Security Disability and SSI Claims