Everything You Want to Know About Social Security (But Are Too Afraid to Ask)
When you first begin working with Pirro and Church (P&C), we'll ask you to start your Disability Application, if you haven't done so already. This is called the Initial Application. It is very important that you do as much of the Application as you can because we will use the answers that your provide to Social Security Administration (SSA) as evidence in your case. Your will have to complete the following forms: the Initial Application, the Disability Report, the Daily Activities Report and the Work History Report. These last two forms will be sent to you by SSA after you have filed your case. Do your best with these forms. They do not need to be perfect, but the information has to come from you!
In the mean time, your Attorney and a team of knowledgeable Paralegals at P&C are working hard on your case. We are requesting all of your medical records, asking your medical providers for opinion letters, researching your prior jobs, talking to SSA and providing all of your records to Disability Determination Services (DDS) where two doctors and a Disability Examiner are making a decision on your case. This process usually takes 3-7 months, but can take longer if you have a lot of medical notes.
At this point, SSA may send you to one of their consulting doctors. This doctor does not decide your case, but offers some notes to SSA. These appointments are usually very short and most claimants leave feeling disappointed as if the doctor did not adequately evaluate them.
When deciding each case, SSA looks at: 1) whether your condition(s) stops your from working in any job (not just your old job); 2) your age; 3) your education and; 4) your work history.
Do not be disappointed if SSA denies your case. Most cases are denied on the Initial Application. Usually, it is not a problem with you or your case, but simply the culture of SSA, partly because so many people are applying for Disability Benefits. We must file an Appeal called a Request for Reconsideration within 60 days of the Initial Denial.
During the Reconsideration process, two different doctors at DDS will review your case to determine whether the original reviewing doctors made a mistake. More than 90% of Reconsideration Requests are denied. When your Reconsideration is denied, we will ask for a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. Right now in New England, the wait to get a hearing is a little over a year from the time that you file a Request for a Hearing. This is very frustrating, but it is a normal part of the case. Do not trust anyone who claims they can make the process faster. They cannot.
When your Hearing is scheduled we will meet with you to prepare you for the Hearing. We will practice your testimony, tell you what to expect, update your records and prepare your witnesses.
The day of the Hearing you will appear before the Judge. P&C prepares written briefs for all clients so the Judge will be familiar with your case. Your Attorney will ask you questions just like you practiced, and will cross-examine the government's witnesses. It's very important to be represented by someone with Hearing and Trial experience at your Hearing because this is the most critical part of your case.
When the Judge grants your case, you'll have to call your local SSA office to tell them your bank account information. It can take several months to be paid for first monthly benefit, and even longer to get your Retroactive benefit. If your case was denied, there are two more Appeals that we can take.