The key to having a successful appeals hearing to obtain disability benefits is ensuring that your claim is fully developed and a clear theory of disability is established to the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
A theory of disability needs to be well-supported with medical evidence that is consistent with your testimony and presented in a manner the ALJ will understand to approve or deny your case. This is where having an experienced lawyer can play an important role in the outcome of your disability case.
A Phoenix Social Security Disability lawyer from our firm is prepared to guide you every step of the way. We have decades of experience helping individuals navigate through the appeals process. We offer free initial consultations to help determine if you are eligible to receive disability benefits.
Developing a Theory of Disability
To prepare for an appeals hearing, a good lawyer will develop the best theory of disability for winning your case. This requires establishing why you are disabled under Social Security Disability law. To achieve this, a lawyer will work to prove:
- Your condition meets one of the Social Security's disability listings;
- Your exertion level is less than sedentary, preventing you from doing any jobs; or
- Your non-external limitations (i.e. issues with memory and concentration) prevent you from working
A disability case is built on answering why you cannot work. In other words, determining the limitations that keep you from working. Unfortunately, not all limitations are equal. A lawyer will work to filter out the limitations that are not helpful to your claim.
Your limitations must erode or eliminate your ability to perform work-related activities (sitting, standing, walking, lifting, etc.) or your ability to sustain and maintain work. For instance, if you have become chronically absent because of your condition, this may not impact your ability to perform work, but it may impact your ability to keep your job for long.
Your limitations and the extent of your limitations in frequency, intensity and duration, must also be the reasonable result of a diagnosed medical condition.
Disability Supported By Medical Evidence
A lawyer can request that your doctor submit a written opinion of your diagnosis, prognosis and functional limitations by completing a Residual Functional Capacity or RFC form. This is important evidence that is needed to support your claim for disability benefits.
A lawyer will only use detailed opinions from doctors who have known you for some time and are specialists in diagnosing and treating your condition. A doctor's opinion must also be supported by objective medical evidence and consistent with other information in your records.
If you have been unable to visit your doctor on a regular basis, a lawyer may be able to develop medical evidence using consultative exams and testimony obtained by you and a medical expert.
What if My Medical Records Contain Unhelpful Information?
Sometimes, medical records may contain information that is not very helpful to a disability case. However, Social Security requires all relevant evidence to be submitted for disability determination.
A lawyer experienced in preparing for an appeals hearing will know how to handle these situations. For instance, if your records contain opinions from a doctor that does not fully support your condition and your inability to work, he or she will ask you questions that limit the importance of such statements.
A lawyer may focus on how long you have been a patient of that particular doctor, if the doctor was a specialist in your condition and if you ever received a second opinion from another doctor.
Get Legal Help at the Hearing Stage
Having legal representation can greatly improve the chances of approval at an appeals hearing versus those who choose not to seek legal help. If you have been denied disability benefits, our lawyers at Dayes Law Firm are well-versed in handling disability cases at the hearing stage.
We are prepared to sort through your medical records, request additional tests or statements and deal with evidence that may be harmful your case. An initial consultation is 100 percent complimentary and confidential. We charge nothing up front for our services and no fees while we work on your case.
Get the Disability Benefits You Need. Call 1-800-503-2000.