Dealing with a debilitating disability can be challenging, especially if you need to work to provide for yourself and your loved ones. Fortunately, you can get financial assistance from the Social Security Administration (SSA) in the form of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). However, what happens if the SSA denies your claim? If your disability benefits are denied, Ken Kieklak can help.
Applying for Social Security Disability benefits is a challenging process. In Arkansas, only approximately 36% of initial applications are approved. This means that a large percentage of disabled individuals are required to navigate the appeals process. Without an experienced attorney reviewing your initial claim and preparing your appeal, your odds of success dimmish dramatically.
Over the years, our Arkansas disability benefits appeal attorneys have helped thousands of clients fight for their benefits. Call Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law today and schedule your free, confidential consultation. Our phone number is (479) 316-0438.
APPEALING A DISABILITY BENEFITS CLAIM DENIAL IN ARKANSAS
Appealing your disability claim denial can be a stressful process, but the good news is there are different remedies at your disposal. It is not rare for the SSA to dismiss most of their claims. Almost 70% of all SSDI claims are denied. However, with our Arkansas disability benefits appeals lawyer’s assistance, you can have a fighting chance to get the relief you need and deserve. Generally, there are four ways you can appeal your SSDI benefits denial in Arkansas: reconsideration, administrative hearings, council hearings, and federal claims. We will discuss each of them below.
The first step to appeal your disability benefits denial in Arkansas is reconsideration. Many people make the mistake of giving up and filing a new claim with the SSA. However, this is not the best way to fight for your benefits. Your reconsideration should be filed within 60 days of your denial notification. Once you file your reconsideration, your disability benefits claim will be sent back to the SSA for review. At this point, it is critical to have as much evidence supporting your claim as possible.
If the SSA doesn’t have enough information or vital data was left out during the process, they may confirm the SSA’s initial determination on your case. Your Arkansas disability benefits attorney should provide the SSA with updated information regarding your condition or disability and all relevant information that may give you a better fighting chance at this stage. If your claim is denied during reconsideration, you can file for an administrative hearing.
If you do not agree or are not satisfied with the SSA’s determination on your case, you can file for an administrative hearing. During this hearing, an administrative law judge (ALJ) will evaluate your case and hear what you need to say. During this time, you can submit new evidence supporting your claim so that the ALJ can evaluate it. You have a very limited time to submit your new evidence. Our Arkansas disability benefits attorney can help you with this matter.
During your administrative hearing, the ALJ will explain your case’s issues and may ask questions to understand your situation better. At this point, you can bring in witnesses to further support your claim. Once the ALJ has seen the evidence, they will provide you with a written decision. If the ALJ confirms the SSA’s original determination, you can file for a formal council hearing before the SSA.
SSA APPEALS COUNCIL HEARING
If you do not agree with the ALJ’s decision on your case, you can file for an SSA Appeals Council hearing. The Council will review your case and determine whether they can make a decision on it, or if they should send it back to an ALJ for further review. Once they have reviewed your claim, they will make a determination and provide you with a notification. If you are still not satisfied with the Council’s decision, you can go to your next available option.
Filing a federal claim against the SSA can be used as a last resort to fight for your disability benefits. During a federal claim, you have the opportunity to go over your case in open court, in front of a federal judge and a jury. This process can help you if every other process fails. Our Arkansas disability benefits appeal attorney can help you during this process.
What to Expect at the Appeals Hearing
Speaking in front of any judge is uncomfortable for the average individual. When your disability benefits are on the line, answering an ALJ’s questions is often intimidating, no matter how much you have prepared and how many facts are on your side. Working with an experienced Arkansas Social Security Disability attorney will ease some of the fear. Through pre-hearing preparation, our attorneys will help you understand what is expected and provide guidance and advice on how to answer many of the questions. Additionally, a legal advocate could answer many of the questions a judge might pose during the hearing. Wherever you are in the appeals process, having a knowledgeable attorney in your corner will increase your chances of a favorable decision.
Answer the Judge’s Question
This almost sounds obvious, but many claimants fail to answer the question asked by the administrative law judge. Nerves certainly play a role in these situations. It is important to pay attention, take a deep breath, and answer each question to the best of your ability. If you do not understand what the judge is asking, you can ask for clarification from your lawyer. If you need to, you should take notes – especially if it helps you to focus on the hearing.
When answering a question, you should be succinct. As stated above, the hearing process is often intimidating and claimants have a propensity to ramble under pressure. If you begin to offer irrelevant information, you might lose the interest of the ALJ. You want to provide short and focused answers to the question that was asked. In some situations, an ALJ might interrupt you or stop paying attention themselves. You want to make sure all your evidence is heard.
Our office will often provide sample questions, allowing you to rehearse your answers. While we are unable to predict every question that will be asked, with years of experience, our Arkansas Social Security Disability appeals lawyers have a good sense of the general types of questions an ALJ will ask. Pre-hearing preparation is crucial when appealing a disability claim.
Be Specific About Your Medical Condition and Impairments
Your disability claim was likely denied for failure to provide sufficient substantiating evidence regarding your medical condition and your limitations. During the hearing, you have an opportunity to present information directly to the ALJ. Therefore, it is critical that you are specific when describing your impairment and how it impacts your ability to work. You are trying to paint a picture for the ALJ, so the effects of your condition are clearly understood.
You also need to be specific when describing the limitations you face. For instance, if you are unable to stand, let the ALJ know for how long. If it is 20 minutes, be clear. Vague answers or descriptions, such as “for a while” or “some time,” are not adequate enough to help the ALJ make a determination.
Be Prepared to Answer Difficult Questions
While part of the hearing will focus on your medical condition and limitations, the ALJ will also ask you some difficult questions. For example, if you have a gap in your medical treatment history, you will have to have an answer. Be honest when answering these questions. If the symptoms you were experiencing were not as bad for a period of time, you need to explain that to the ALJ. Being forthright is essential when answering a difficult question. Should you lose credibility with the ALJ, you will likely lose your appeal.
Gaps in medical treatment are not the only potential problem. If you have any issues that will appear unfavorable, you need to have an honest answer prepared. Part of our preparation is addressing these types of issues. It is also important to make sure you have provided our Arkansas Social Security Disability lawyers with a complete picture. If an ALJ asks a question about a situation that you failed to disclose, it makes it much more difficult to provide the legal representation you might need.
It has been said a few times already, but the importance of being honest cannot be understated. When answering any question or providing any information, you must give an honest answer. In some cases, a claimant might believe that exaggerating their symptoms will improve their chances of having their claim approved.
Administrative law judges hear hundreds of cases a year and know when a claimant is embellishing their impairment. Again, once you lose credibility, you lose your appeal. It is also important to be honest with your attorney before the hearing. If the information our office has is inaccurate or deceptively magnified, it makes it harder to prepare you properly.
For example, a common way an ALJ will ask you to describe your pain is on a scale of one to ten. If you say that you experience level ten pain daily, it is unlikely that the ALJ will accept your answer at face value. Also, when describing your medical condition or limitations, use specific terms. Words such as “always” and “never” are vague and unconvincing.
REASONS WHY THE SSA MAY DENY YOUR DISABILITY BENEFITS IN ARKANSAS
As we mentioned, the SSA denies most of its claims. There are many reasons why the SSA may deny a claim. The SSA requires all petitioners to provide accurate and complete information on their application. The SSA will reject any application with incomplete information. Moreover, the SSA will look at your application closely to make sure you are providing truthful information. If you get caught providing a false claim, your petition may be denied, and you may face severe consequences.
Completing an SSA application can be difficult, especially if you are a first-time petitioner with little to no experience. This is why it would be best to hire an Arkansas disability benefits lawyer. With your attorney’s assistance, you may avoid mistakes that may cost your claim’s approval.
As you may know, the SSA requires all applicants to go through a particular qualification process. If you do not meet any of the SSA’s requirements, they may deny your claim. For instance, the SSA will consider claims with conditions or disabilities included in their Blue Book. If your condition or disability is not on this list, your claim may be denied. It is essential to hire an experienced Arkansas disability benefits appeal attorney who can help you fight for the compensation you deserve.
OUR ARKANSAS DISABILITY ATTORNEYS CAN HELP WITH YOUR SSDI APPEAL
If you or a loved one had their SSDI claim denied by the SSA in Arkansas, we can help. Our Arkansas disability benefits appeal attorneys understand how your claim process works and can help you get the disability benefits you deserve. Thanks to our many years of experience handling disability benefits appeals in Arkansas, we can know what needs to be done to fight for your benefits. To learn more about or legal services and how we can help, call Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law today at (479) 316-0438.