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 Michigan
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
Claimants who are represented on disability claims in Michigan 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?"
At what point in the process should a social security disability (SSD) or supplemental security income (SSI) applicant in Michigan consult an attorney? Does anyone really need the services of a disability lawyer, and if so, when is the best time to get one involved? The answer to these questions really depends upon the circumstances surrounding each claim, as well as the individual involved.
For instance, some claims are so straightforward they will most likely be immediately approved for benefits by a disability examiner. Individuals have been diagnosed with severe loss of vision, paralysis, debilitating seizure disorders, etc., or those with symptoms that clearly fit a condition listed in the social security administration impairment manual (called the blue book), are likely be approved for benefits fairly quickly and in such cases there may be no need for legal counsel.
However, the majority of disability claimants do not fit neatly into criteria listed in the blue book, and must rely on medical records to convince a disability examiner that they are too disabled to earn a living. For some individuals, the task of gathering all the medical records and work history information to present to the examiner may prove too great, especially when they are already coping with symptoms associated with their condition. They may not be in a place, physically or mentally, in which they are able to stay on top of things. These individuals should consider retaining a disability lawyer as soon as possible. In Michigan, as soon as the social security administration is informed that a claimant has legal representation in a disability matter, they are required to keep the legal representative informed of the status of the case. This takes a lot of the weight off the shoulders of the claimant, because their legal representative will deal directly with social security disability services and ensure that everything is in order, as well as file an appeal well within the 60-day deadline should the initial claim be denied (itís important not to miss this deadline, because if you do, you have to start all over again with a new claim).
Some claimants find that they are able to provide all the necessary medical and work history information to disability determination services with little difficulty, and will not need a lawyer to help them stay on task. However, anyone in Michigan who has had both their initial disability claim and reconsideration appeal denied by a state disability examiner should strongly consider legal representation, because the next step in the process involves a hearing before an administrative law judge. In Michigan, your chances of winning disability benefits from an administrative judge are significantly greater when you have legal representation of some kind.
An experienced disability lawyer or non attorney claimant's representative (non-attorney reps are often former SSA representatives of state disability examiners) can mean the difference between approval or disapproval of your claim, and given that it can take over a year to get your case heard (backlogs exist in the disability system in Michigan and just about every other state) you definitely do not want to leave anything to chance when you finally do appear before a federal judge.
Note: The request for reconsideration appeal step is currently suspended in the state of Michigan as Michigan 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