New Article: Who Is an Administrative Law Judge?
The Flint Social Security disability lawyers offer assistance to those seeking Michigan disability benefits
The first question we are usually asked by our Flint disability clients – and our other clients throughout the Greater Tri-Cities region – is “Will I qualify for Michigan disability benefits?” The other question we frequently hear is “Should I appeal the denial of my disability claim?”
Will I qualify for Michigan Social Security disability benefits?
This is a common question we receive from many of our Tri-Cities area and Flint Social Security disability clients. To qualify for Social Security disability benefits in Michigan and nationwide, you must be found to be “disabled.” Social Security law states that you are “disabled” only if your physical or mental impairment is so severe that you are unable to do your previous work and you cannot, considering your age, education, and work experience, do any other substantial gainful work that exists in the national economy.
To determine whether you qualify for Social Security disability benefits, the Social Security Administration in Flint, Michigan, and nationally, will use a five-step evaluation process to apply the above definition of disabled to your case. The five-step process can be complicated and involves a detailed analysis. The five steps, however, can be simplified to the following two questions:
- Is your impairment (your physical or mental condition) preventing you from working?
- Has this impairment lasted for 12 continuous months, or is it expected to last that long?
If your answer to both of the above questions is “yes,” then it is worth beginning the process of applying for Michigan Social Security disability benefits.
For more information on the five-step evaluation process, see Will I qualify?
Also, see our video Are you likely to qualify for disability benefits?
How to file your initial Michigan Social Security disability claim in Flint or the Greater Tri-Cities area
You can file your initial Michigan disability claim by either telephoning the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 for an appointment, or you can complete your application online at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/applyfordisability/.
Most claimants initiate their Flint, Michigan Social Security disability claims by telephoning the Social Security Administration, and having the staff make a telephone appointment for a local Michigan Social Security Administration claims representative to call the claimant back at an appointed hour. Or if you prefer, an appointment can be made to go to your local Greater Tri-Cities area or Flint Social Security office to complete an application in person. During the appointment, you will be asked basic information, which will be entered into a computer application form that will be printed and, if it is a telephone interview, will be mailed to you for signature, along with other forms to be completed and signed.
For suggestions about applying, see Tips for applying.
Should I appeal if my initial application for Flint Social Security disability is denied?
The short answer is “yes.” Failing to appeal the Social Security Administration’s denial of an initial application is one of the biggest mistakes Michigan Social Security disability claimants make. The bottom line is that most disability applications are denied. Nationwide about two-thirds of initial applications are denied while over half of those who appeal are ultimately awarded disability benefits. The numbers are similar for disability claims in Grand Blanc, Flint and the Greater Tri-Cities area.
Michigan disability claimants need to keep in mind that the Social Security disability process favors appellants over applicants. The main reason for this is that there are significant differences between your initial application and the appeals process. The following are just a few important differences:
- When you submit your initial application, sometimes important evidence is not in your file. For example, the medical records in your file may be inadequate or missing, or one of your doctors may have forgotten to complete a form or include the needed medical information. There may be other helpful evidence that should be included in your file, such as a letter from people who know how your activities are limited by your impairment(s). As your Flint disability attorneys, we can make sure these types of gaps in your file are filled before your appeal hearing.
- The denial of your initial application is based on a review of your file only. The disability examiner at this stage doesn’t have the opportunity to hear from you and your witnesses in person. This results in disability examiners frequently focusing on the medical records rather than on fully understanding how your impairment limits your ability to function in the workplace.
- One of the most important differences is that when you appeal, you will have a Social Security disability hearing before an administrative law judge. At your appeal hearing, with the assistance of your Flint disability attorney, you will have the opportunity to appear in person before the judge and explain your impairment(s) in your own words. In addition, your witnesses can tell the judge about your impairments and how they limit the activities you are able to do.
These differences help Flint disability appellants win Michigan Social Security disability benefits. For more information about appealing, see Appealing a Denial of Benefits, a free downloadable e-booklet about appealing a denial.
You can have experienced Flint Social Security lawyers file your appeal
Our Tri-Cities area and Flint Social Security disability clients also often ask us at what point they should consider legal representation. We generally advise disability claimants to file their initial application by themselves with the Social Security Administration in Flint or wherever else they are located. There are many Michigan disability claimants who are awarded benefits at this step ― so there is no need to incur the expense of an attorney. However, once your initial application has been denied, we advise you to immediately seek the representation of a knowledgeable Flint disability attorney as you have only 60 days to appeal the denial of your initial application.
How much does our assistance cost?
We handle our Michigan Social Security disability appeals cases on a contingent fee basis, which means there is no fee unless we are successful and you are awarded disability benefits. Our fee is set by the U.S. Government, but generally, the fee is 25% of past due benefits only (up to a maximum set amount set by the Social Security Administration, which is currently $6,000).
No attorney fees will be subtracted from your future monthly disability benefits. This means that if you are awarded Michigan Social Security disability benefits, you may receive those benefits for 30 years or more and there are no fees involved with these benefits.
In addition to the contingent fee, you will be asked to reimburse us for what are called “win or lose” expenses. These expenses include the cost of obtaining medical records, medical opinion records, conferences or statements by your doctor, or other related expenses to your case, but not our general operating expenses. All fees must be approved by the Social Security Administration.
Experienced Flint disability lawyers available to file your appeal
We can handle your appeal for you, and take much of the frustration and aggravation out of what can be a challenging process. We are experienced with handling all types of impairments, including, among others, arthritis and joint damage, back injuries, diabetes, heart problems, mental impairments, and stroke.
Our 100-plus page website provides you with additional information about all types of impairments and how the Social Security Administration in Flint, Michigan and nationally, will look at your claim.
If you live in Grand Blanc, Flint, or the Greater Tri-Cities area, including Saginaw, Midland, and Bay City, and your application for Michigan disability benefits has been denied, we can help you file your appeal and present the best case possible at your appeal hearing.
Please complete the short claim evaluation form to the right, and we will respond promptly.
Or you may contact our office at: