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Tips to Win Your Social Security Disability Claim in New York

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Did you know that over 60% of all initial Social Security Disability claims filed without a lawyer are denied? Did you know that the Social Security Disability appeals process can now take up to two years?  In New York, the current backlog of disability cases awaiting a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge is over 52,000one of the worst in the nation

However, there are several things you can do to avoid this intimidating bottleneck:

  • Have a heart-to-heart talk with your treating doctor.  Ask him directly if he is willing to support your disability claim in writing. Without the proper medical evidence, no Social Security Disability lawyer can win your claim.  Some physicians simply don’t want to be bothered with Social Security paperwork.  A few others have a "God complex" along the lines of "if I did surgery on you, you can’t be disabled!".  If your doctor is unwilling to support your case but you still believe you cannot work, ask you lawyer for the name of a credible doctor who can give you a second opinion.   It could make the difference between bankruptcy or a steady stream of income for the rest of your life;
  • Unfortunately, Social Security does not grant great weight to the reports of chiropractors for spinal disorders or social workers for mental disorders. If you are treating with these professionals, you may have to supplement your medical records with reports from orthopedists or neurologists for back and neck problems, or psychiatrists or psychologists for depression and other mental disorders.  Speak to an experienced Social Security disability attorney who can help you select a doctor who understands the written proof necessary in disability claims;
  • Don’t minimize the actual physical demands of your job.  If you are a secretary, but your job also requires you to lift boxes of copy paper to load the copy machine, you must write this in the "work history" portion of the application.  Otherwise, the Administrative Law Judge who will hear your case might think that you lift nothing more than a telephone receiver all day.  Failure to accurately describe the physical and mental demands of your occupation could be fatal to your case;
  • Hire an experienced Social Security Disability attorney at the initial application stageIt does not cost any extra money to hire a lawyer early in the process!  If you also have a long term disability claim, don’t let the insurance company dictate who your Social Security representative will be.  These "advocates" or "representatives" work for the insurance company, not you.  And to boot, they charge the same fees as lawyers who are ethically bound to protect only your interests.
  • Many believe wrongly that filing for Social Security is a simple process requiring the completion of a few forms.  In reality, it is a confusing, long process governed by strict government regulations as the above statistics show.  What you write in your initial application can come back to hurt you later at the almost inevitable hearing before a Judge.  An experienced attorney who knows the local judges, unlike faceless representatives at large advocacy groups like Allsup or Advantage 2000 who work for long term disability insurance companies, can personally meet with you to map out a winning strategy;

Since most initial applications are denied, you will want to have an attorney by your side when you appear at a Hearing Before an Administrative Law Judge.  At this hearing, your sworn testimony under oath will be tape recorded for potential review in a federal court.  Remember – your Social Security claim is governed by federal case law and regulations. The lawyer you choose can make all the difference!

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