How To Win Your
Disability Claim!
(Lesson 6 - Why It Takes So Friggin' Long!)

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    Why does it take so friggin' long to win a case?

    Believe it or not, on average, from start to finish, the typical Social Security Disability case can take as long as 18 months to 2 years. Mr. Jonathan Ginsberg, an experienced disability attorney,  recently read a report from the federal government General Accounting Office which reports that an average case from start to final appeal can last over three years - and during those three years, Social Security employees actually work on the file a grand total of seven days.

      Seven days in three years - can you believe it!?

Here is a sample time frame taken from a case Mr. Ginsberg tried a few years ago:

January 1, 2000 - Claimant files application by calling or writing

January 10, 2000 - Social Security acknowledges receipt of application and schedules a phone or office interview.

January 25, 2000 - Social Security intake clerk takes down information contained in theformal Application for Benefits Form SSA-16-F6).

February 1 - March 30, 2000 - DAS claims processor sends form requests for medical records to all doctors and hospitals listed on Form SSA-16-F6. The claims processor may also send you a Disability Report (Form SSA-3368-BK) and a Work History Report (Form SSA-3369-BK).

April 1 - 15, 2000 - DAS claims processor collects, organizes and reviews medical records, Disability Report, and Work History Report. Adjudicator will also send your file to staff physician and/or staff psychologist for review.

[If the evidence supports a favorable decision, claimant is notified and the claim is sent for payment processing.]

April 25, 2000 - Claims processor issues a form based denial notice.  You have 60 days to appeal.

June 1, 2000 - you file your appeal (Request for Reconsideration form SSA-561-U2 and Reconsideration Disability Report form SSA-3441-F6).

June 10, 2000 - DAS acknowledges claim.

June 15, 2000 - DAS claims processor reviews Reconsideration Disability Report and sends out form requests for updated medical information and records from any new physicians. If mental health or physical consultative exams are called for, the claims processor will schedule appointment and send you an appointment notice
letter.

June 20, 2000 - DAS claims processor sends you Daily Living Questionnaire and will request a statement from a person who knows you.

August 1, 2000 - Claims processor organizes file, reviews it, and takes it to an in-house physician/psychologist for review.

[If evidence supports a favorable decision, the claimant is notified and the claim is sent for payment processing.]

August 15, 2000 - Claims processor issues a form-based reconsideration denial notice. You have 60 days to appeal.

September 15, 2000 - You file a Request for Hearing (form HA-501-U5) and Claimant's Statement when Request for Hearing is Filed and the Issue is Disability (form HA-4486).

September 30, 2000 - Social Security office issues confirmation of receipt of hearing request.

November 1, 2000 - your claims file is physically moved from the DAS to the Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA).

June 15, 2000 - OHA personnel unpack file and begin to organize it.

August 1, 2001 - OHA finishes works up file and sends notice to you (and your attorney) that file is ready to be reviewed.

September 1, 2001 - Case is assigned to a judge and a hearing notice is issued for hearing on October 15, 2002.

October 15, 2002 - Case is called by Administrative Law Judge.

March 1, 2002 - Judge issues decision.

     That's over two years, if you were counting. And, unfortunately, this type of delay is more and more common.

     What can you do about it? As a start, you need to do everything in your power to make sure that your file is kept up-to-date. That means you need to keep a current list of all of your doctors - with contact information and a current list of your medications.

     The information offered in The Disability Answer Guide  has helped a number of people win an early decision, because I firmly believe that if you make it easy for the Social Security employee, your chances improve.

    Remember, Social Security speaks its own language. So, whether or not you order Mr. Ginsberg's book, remember to focus on the vocational (work) limitations that arise from your medical condition. Also remember to be very specific - a statement that "I can't walk very far and my legs hurt a lot"  means nothing.  A statement where you report that "I can walk no more than 30 yards before I have to sit down, and my leg pain is a sharp shooting pain from my hip to my feet that feels like an 8 on a 10 point scale" does mean something to Social Security.

     And finally, as a last resort, if you desperately need to have your case decided, call your senator's office. Every U.S. Senator has an employee who spends most of her time helping constituents deal with the Social Security Administration. Many of the cases deal with retirement or missing check issues, but these senate staffers can sometimes cut through the red tape to get you a quick hearing.

     That's it for today - tomorrow, I'll explain what Social Security lawyers do and how you can decide whether it is necessary to retain counsel in your case.

   The Disability Answer Guide is the comprehensive, step-by-step, plain English instruction manual you need to help you apply for and win your case.  You'll discover real-life examples of over 100 pages of Social Security forms you'll be dealing with before, during, and after being processed through the disability system. 

     Each form is filled out with sample answers for you to copy and modify. If you are in pain or have trouble concentrating, this will save you time and stress and eliminate a lot of frustration.

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Sincerely,


Brian Therrien

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