Social Security

How to Win a Social Security Disability Appeal

by Cary Graham | April 18th, 2016

If you’ve been disabled and are unable to work, the most logical thing for you to do is apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. After all, you’ve paid your entire career into the system. That’s thousands of dollars out of your paycheck that went to helping others in your same situation. It makes sense that now that you need it, benefits should be easy to secure. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) denies more than two-thirds of initial SSD applications. Think about that. Two-thirds of people who turn to the SSA for help after a debilitating injury are turned away. For most, that denial can jeopardize the financial stability of their family, leaving them wondering how they’re going to make ends meet. Luckily, the majority of those who get an experienced SSD lawyer on their side to represent them in the appeal process will go on to secure benefits.

That’s great news for you if you’ve been denied. Call our experienced Arkansas Social Security Disability lawyers today for a free consultation. We know how to navigate the complex appeals process, and we’ll do everything within our power to get you and your family the benefits you deserve.

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Social Security Disability Appeals Process

by Cary Graham | March 21st, 2016

We believe that getting Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits for your disability should be easy. After all, you’ve paid into the system your entire career and never taken a cent from the coffers. Now that you’re injured and unable to work, you should be able to draw from the benefits you’ve provided to others for years. However, more than two-thirds of all initial applications are denied, leaving many wondering how they’ll make ends meet. Thankfully, there’s an appeal process, and with a lawyer, you stand a good chance of securing benefits.

Here’s the basic process for the SSD appeal process:

  • Reconsideration—You must request reconsideration in writing within 60 days of the date you received your denial notice.
  • Administrative Law Judge Hearing—If your initial reconsideration request is denied, the next step is to request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). You may be required to have additional medical exams or tests at this stage.
  • Appeals Council Review—If you don’t secure benefits at the ALJ level, your next course of action is to request an Appeals Council review. The Appeals Council will grant your request for review and decide the case itself, grant your request for review and send it back to the ALJ to decide, or deny your request altogether.
  • Federal Court—Finally, you can file a civil action with the U.S. District Court in your area. To have a chance at securing benefits at this stage, you need an attorney on your side to present the best case possible.

If you’ve been denied Social Security Disability benefits, give us a call for a free consultation. We’ve helped people throughout Arkansas get the benefits they deserve, and we’re ready to help you too.

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How much household income can I have and still be able to file for Social Security benefits?

by Lauren Manatt | February 19th, 2016

 

In Social Security Disability there is a difference between household income and your own income, and both affect your access to disability benefits in different ways.

Let’s first address household income. Your household income can affect your eligibility for SSI. To be eligible for SSI (Supplemental Security Income) your income cannot exceed a certain level. This income limit is based on the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR) and changes annually with the cost-of-living-adjustment. For 2016, the FBR is $733 per month for individuals and $1,100 for couples; however, your countable income may be different than your actual income, so call Rainwater, Holt & Sexton and we can advise you on whether or not you exceed this income limit.

Second is your own income. In order to be found disabled you cannot be engaged in what the Social Security Administration terms “substantial gainful activity” (SGA). A person who is working and earning over a certain monthly amount is considered to be engaging in substantial gainful activity and is not considered disabled. For statutorily blind individuals, SGA for 2016 is $1,820. For non-blind individuals, the SGA amount for 2016 is $1,130. If your monthly income is close to this amount or slightly over, please call Rainwater, Holt & Sexton as we may still be able to help you.

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In Social Security Disability what is the difference between SSI and SSDI?

by Lauren Manatt | February 4th, 2016

The difference between SSI and SSDI is a point of confusion for many of our social security disability clients. The main difference between SSI and SSDI is how you qualify for each. At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton we have attorneys that can lead you through the qualifying process.

SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, is a type of disability benefit paid to qualifying individuals whose household income falls below a certain level. In other words, SSI is a “needs” based disability. If your household income exceeds a certain amount, you are deemed to not be in “need” and do not qualify for SSI. This income limit is based on the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR) and changes annually with the cost-of-living-adjustment. For 2016, the FBR is $733 per month for individuals and $1,100 for couples; however, your countable income may be different than your actual income, so give Rainwater, Holt and Sexton a call and we will advise you on whether or not you exceed this income limit.

SSDI, Social Security Disability Insurance, is a type of disability available to those who have worked (and paid FICA taxes) for a required minimum number of years. As you work, you are paying taxes which “insure” you under SSDI in the event you become disabled. If you stop working, you stop paying those taxes, and your “insured period” will eventually end. The date it ends is what the Social Security Administration terms your “date last insured” or “DLI” and you must prove you became disabled before this date in order to have access to SSDI benefits. Many people stop working because of a disability, but hold off on filing for SSDI for various reasons. This is quite dangerous because your DLI could be quickly approaching and you not know until it is too late. Even if you have been told by SSA that your DLI is in the in the past, please call Rainwater, Holt & Sexton and let us see if we can still help you.

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Steps To Take After a Social Security Disability Denial

by Keith Adkins | November 24th, 2014

If you’ve paid into the Social Security system for years and apply for disability benefits, you may receive a Social Security Disability denial after months or years of waiting for your claim to be processed.

As frustrating as this sounds, this is a reality that many disabled Americans face on a daily basis. In fact, the Social Security Administration (SSA) reports that they reject more than 60 percent of initial claims.

Luckily, you can always appeal a denied claim. There are four different levels of the appeals process:

  1. Reconsideration- Once you submit your appeal within 60 days of the initial decision being issued, the SSA will again examine your case.
  2. Hearing- If your claim is denied again, you can take your case before an administrative judge for a review of the decision.
  3. Appeals Council Review- If the judge upholds the original decision; your claim can be taken before a council of claim examiners to be looked at again.
  4. Federal Court- Having your case heard at this level is the final step for an appeal.

While these steps may seem rather straightforward, the appeals process can get complex. That’s why it may be beneficial to hire a legal representative to assist you with your case.

At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, our team of Little Rock personal injury lawyers can answer any legal questions you may have, and we’ll provide you with a free case consultation. If your Social Security Disability claim has been denied in the past, give us a call at (800) 767-4815 to speak with a member of our legal team.

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What You Need to Know About Applying for Social Security Disability

by Keith Adkins | September 29th, 2014

Social Security Disability benefits can help make ends meet if you’re unable to work due to an injury or medical condition, but you may be unaware of the process to successfully file a claim. Luckily, the Arkansas Social Security Disability lawyers at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton are here to clarify the process for you.

The first step is completing and submitting an application for benefits.  This includes submitting all evidence related to your case—such as medical records, doctors’ notes, and employment paperwork— to the Social Security Administration (SSA).

The agency’s claim adjustors will then issue a decision on your claim based on the evidence you submit.

The SSA reports that as many as 60 percent of initial claims will not meet the standards of qualifying for Social Security Disability. But a denial isn’t necessarily the end of your claim—you can always file an appeal.

Those wishing to do so have 60 days to enter the Social Security Disability Appeals process from the time a denial is issued. The case will then be scrutinized again to determine if the claim should be approved. Many initial denials become approvals upon appeal.

If you’re considering applying for Social Security Disability benefits or have a claim that’s been denied in the past, Rainwater, Holt & Sexton may be able to help. Call us today at (800) 767-4815 to learn about what we can do for you.

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Social Security Disability Lawyers Discuss the Expansion of Compassionate Allowances

by Keith Adkins | January 27th, 2014

January 27, 2014

Many individuals who are unable to work due to physical or mental conditions depend on Social Security Disability benefits for income. The approval process for these benefits can be complicated by long wait times that could stretch for months or even years. A program called the Social Security Disability Compassionate Allowances hopes to address these problems.

Compassionate allowances can qualify individuals suffering from one or more ailments on the list for expedited approval. The Social Security Administration says this streamlined process can reduce the wait time on disability claims to just a few weeks, compared to the months or years it can take for typical claims to be processed.

A press release from the Social Security Administration says the list of qualifying conditions was recently expanded to include an additional 25 conditions, such as several types of cancers, and genetic, digestive, neurologic, and autoimmune disorders.

Officials say they are hopeful the expansion of compassionate allowances will continue to help the agency reduce the backlog of unprocessed disability claims. Currently, more than 200,000 claims have been processed under the list of compassionate allowances.

The Arkansas Personal Injury Lawyers with Rainwater, Holt & Sexton understand how confusing the rules regarding Social Security Disability benefits can be. That’s why the firm would encourage anyone considering applying for benefits to discuss their case with an attorney.

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Social Security Administration Announces 1.5 Percent Cost-of-Living Adjustment for 2014

by Keith Adkins | November 4th, 2013

November 4, 2013

Making ends meet can be difficult for those unable to work due to mental or physical conditions. The Little Rock Personal Injury Lawyers with Rainwater, Holt, & Sexton explain that help is available to these individuals through Social Security Disability benefits. But over time, rising inflation rates can cause benefits to become insufficient.

This problem prompted the Social Security Administration to implement a program that allows a yearly cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to be made to every beneficiary’s payments. The COLA is figured by examining rates of inflation for certain products and goods deemed vital to everyday life.

The federal government recently announced that in 2014, Social Security recipients could expect to see a COLA of 1.5 percent. This figures out to be approximately $19 extra dollars per month for each recipient, one of the lowest COLAs in the history of the program.

This year’s low number has prompted many to call for changes to be made to the way the program calculates the COLAs. However, no plans for changes have been finalized.

Rainwater, Holt & Sexton and their team of Arkansas Social Security Disability Lawyers recognize how difficult it can be to receive benefits from the Social Security Administration. That’s why the firm suggests discussing your case with an attorney if you are considering applying for Social Security benefits.

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Senator Pushes for Expedited Social Security Disability Benefits for Terminally Ill

by Keith Adkins | August 12th, 2013

August 12, 2013

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is currently facing a growing number of applicants for Social Security Disability Benefits, leading a large backlog of unprocessed claims. Estimates show there are thousands of claims for benefits that have taken longer than 125 days to process.

To help reduce the size of this backlog, the SSA and lawmakers have taken several steps to improve the efficiency of the application process for benefits.  One of the first changes made was to expand the number of conditions that qualify for compassionate allowances. These allowances are given to those who are in the most dire need for benefits due to the life-threatening nature or severity of their conditions.

Now lawmakers are looking to further speed up the processing of claims. The County Press reports that Mike Green, a U.S. Senator from Michigan, has introduced a bill calling for benefits to be expedited to patients suffering from conditions that leave them terminally ill.

Those who receive benefits under the program will receive half of their monthly benefit the first month, with the amount increasing to a 75 percent share in the second month. By the third month, the claimant receives full benefits.

The Arkansas Personal Injury Lawyers with Rainwater, Holt & Sexton applaud the efforts being made to get disabled people the assistance they need.

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Social Security System Switches to Electronic Payment System

by Keith Adkins | March 4th, 2013

March 4, 2013

The Social Security Administration recently announced that beginning on March 1, the agency would stop sending paper checks to Social Security Disability and retirement beneficiaries. The announcement explained the agency would be switching to only issuing electronic deposits to bank accounts held by recipients.

Despite the announcement, a press release from the U.S. Department of Treasure claimed there were still roughly 56,000 Arkansas residents who were scheduled to receive a paper check. Experts believe the failure of many to make the switch comes from a hesitation to change from what has become a normal routine for many recipients.

The agency explains there are several benefits to having Social Security benefits processed electronically. The biggest reason for the switch seems to be cost cutting. Electronic deposits are touted as a way for the country to potentially save $1 billion over the next decade by eliminating printing and mailing costs associated with paper checks.

Another major benefit for recipients is a more secure way of receiving payments. Since benefits are being directly routed to an individual’s bank account, there is less risk of stolen or lost checks.

The Little Rock Personal Injury Lawyers with Rainwater, Holt & Sexton Injury Lawyers applaud the efforts to improve the Social Security system. The firm would also encourage any Arkansas residents who have not made the necessary changes to do so immediately.

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