After one of my clients is denied, I often stop the appeal process and ask them a couple of questions to determine whether he or she is willing to take his or her Social Security disability claim to the next step.
First, I ask them, "Are you really disabled?"
Many people believe that just because they have a mental or physical impairment, they are not capable of working. But, here is the question I usually pose to them: "Can you work at a sit-down job for 6 out of 8 hours per day, with normal breaks, doing some kind of job that takes little to no training?"
In all actuality, it's pretty hard to say you cannot do one of these kinds of jobs within the national economy. Many people believe that if they can no longer be a plumber, electrician, hairdresser, etc., then they must be disabled. But you see, that is only part of the equation. In order to be found disabled, it must be determined one is incapable of performing ANY job. That's a pretty high standard.
Then, I ask them, "Do you really understand what it means to be disabled?"
Again, many people feel that if they cannot do the job they used to do, then they must be disabled. And again, that is only part of the equation.
In order to be disabled, you have to pass at least 4 out of 5 steps. (If you do not meet Step 3, you still get to go onto Step 4).
Here they are in short order:
1. You are not engaging in Substantial Gainful Activity,
2. You have a severe impairment,
3. You meet a Medical Listing, or
4. You cannot do the work you once did within the last 15 years, and
5. You cannot do some other type of work.
As you can see, not being able to do some kind of work you did within the last 15 years is only at Step 4. You must also satisfy Step 5 as well in order to be found disabled.
Finally, I ask them, "Are you prepared to take this all the way to the hearing level or even further?"
As of 2017, there are currently over 1 million people waiting for their hearing date before an Administrative Law Judge. After two denials, the average wait time used to be about 12 months. Now, the average wait time is about 600 days across the United States.
So, what does that tell us?
1. It tells us that this is a very long process.
2. It tells us that an average person is going to have to find some means of support until his or her case can be heard. In fact, many people have to end up moving in with friends or family in order to survive financially while their case moves through the Social Security system.
3. It also tells us that even after the hearing with the judge, the case is likely to wait even longer before a decision is rendered.
4. And, believe it or not, it also tells us that many more people are denied than approved. It gives us an insight into the lower and lower approval rates being granted by the Social Security Administration. If there are that many people waiting to have a hearing, then all those people were denied just like you. And, if the percentages stay about the same, many people are going to have to either appeal the decision made at their hearing or start all over again.
We help claimants fighting for their Social Security disability benefits throughout Texas and California. If you need help, you can always reach us at: (888) 780-9125.