Orlando SSD Claims Process Attorney
Our Maitland & Orlando disability lawyer explains the process for obtaining Social Security Disability
If you are disabled and can’t work due to your disability, you may be entitled to disability benefits such as monthly income payments and medical insurance from Social Security. Sadly, the process involved in applying for benefits can seem to drag on forever, with no guarantee that you’ll get your benefits in the end. The process may seem frustrating and discouraging, but you should know that the longer you stick with the process, the more likely you are to be ultimately successful. These benefits are extremely important to people in need. In Maitland and Orlando, disability attorney Shea Fugate works diligently to help ensure that people who are eligible for social security disability (SSD) get the benefits they need and, quite frankly, are entitled to under the law. Learn more below about the process for obtaining SSD, and contact the Law Offices of Shea A. Fugate, P.A. for help from an experienced and successful Orlando SSD benefits attorney.
Applying for SSD Benefits
The Social Security Administration (SSA) makes it fairly easy to apply for SSD benefits. You can apply online, in an interview over the phone or by making an appointment at your local SSA field office. The Orlando office is located at 5520 Gatlin Ave, just off FL 436/Semoran Blvd. They are open from 9:00-4:00 Monday through Friday, except for Wednesday, when they close at noon. The SSA phone number is 1-866-964-6146.
After submitting your application, expect it to take four or five months before you hear back with a decision. During that period, SSA may make multiple requests for your medical records or require you to submit to one or more physical exams. This part of the process can be key, and bringing in an attorney for advice can help.
If your application is approved, congratulations. You are one of the few who got accepted without having to request a hearing. If your application is denied, don’t worry. Call the Law Offices of Shea A. Fugate, P.A. in Maitland and Orlando, and we’ll help you through the next steps.
Request for Reconsideration
You can ask the SSA to reconsider your application if they initially deny it. This step is a complete review with a completely new reviewer. Be aware that because this is a new review, the second reviewer may view parts of your application less favorably than the last reviewer did. If you have new evidence or evidence you did not include in your original application, you can include it here. This is also a good time to get legal help from an experienced disability lawyer who can look over your original application and documentation and address any issued identified in the initial denial. Your attorney can also advise you on whether it is better strategically to request reconsideration or go straight to a hearing in your particular case.
Some applicants are successful at this stage, but most get turned down again and need to request a hearing. Stick with the process; statistics show that applicants stand a much better chance of getting approved at the hearing stage. Why is this? Most likely, it is because people who have tried to go through the process on their own so far realize they need the help of an experienced lawyer to represent them in a hearing. Once you have an attorney on board, your odds of success greatly increase.
Request a Hearing
A hearing must be requested within 65 days of a denial, so don’t waste any time contacting an attorney to help you. Missing this deadline can mean the end of your case. When you request a hearing, the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) will appoint an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to hear your case. A hearing typically takes about 30 to 45 minutes and may or may not involve calling any witnesses. At the hearing, your attorney will ask you questions about your conditions and past work, so that the judge has an accurate picture of your medical condition. Your attorney will also make legal arguments on your behalf.
The ALJ will decide whether you are disabled or not disabled for purposes of SSD usually within a month or two after the hearing. As before, the SSA may have you undergo a medical evaluation as part of the process. This exam is paid for by the SSA. It is not for the purpose of treating you but only to prepare a report for ODAR to use in making their decision.
Unfortunately, it can take over a year to get this hearing scheduled due to the large number of applications rejected and the heavy caseload of people requesting a hearing. If you have an emergency, for instance if you received a notice of eviction or foreclosure or if your condition is terminal, let us know and we’ll do what we can to expedite your hearing.
Appeals Council Review
If you are unsuccessful at the ALJ hearing, you can appeal your case to the Social Security Appeals Council in Falls Church, Virginia. You have 60 days to decide whether to appeal or not. The appeals council may accept your case, decline to review it, or send it back to the ALJ. It may take a year to get a decision from the appeals council, but you should continue getting medical treatment during this time if under a doctor’s care. The appeals council can redecide issues which were previously favorable to you, so it’s crucial to have a skilled attorney put together a thorough and well-supported case for your appeal.
File Suit in Federal District Court
If the appeals council decides not to review your case, or if they take your appeal and render an unfavorable decision, you have 60 days to decide whether to file suit for judicial review in federal court. In Maitland and Orlando, this case would be heard in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.
Filing a lawsuit in federal court may seem like a drastic step, but it is just one more step in the process to help you get your benefits. Not all disability law attorneys go this far, but Shea Fugate is particularly experienced in federal court appeals of disability denials. Our SSD benefits attorney is comfortable in the courtroom and committed to staying with your case for as long as it makes sense to continue pursuing appeals.
Help with Social Security Disability Benefits in Maitland and Orlando
No matter where you are in the SSD claim process, we can step in with helpful, strategic advice and excellent representation to get your benefits as soon as possible. In Maitland and Orlando, contact the Law Offices of Shea A. Fugate, P.A. for a free consultation with a dedicated and successful Orlando social security disability attorney.