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Time Expectations in Social Security Cases

A lot of disability claimants file their case with the impression that as soon as they filed they will be awarded disability. While this may be true in extremely severe cases, it is not uncommon to hear a claimant saying “I don’t understand, even my doctor wrote a letter to them saying I’m disabled and they still denied me”. The reason for most denials is the capacity of the State Agency and its case workers. They are not doctors and rely on their own paid doctors who review medical records and make their assessment regarding disability. What most claimants are not aware of is the fact that these State Agency doctors are reviewing an extremely limited amount of records and based on these limited records, they have to decide whether or not a claimant is disabled. It is very common for a claimant to have over 200 pages of medical records and the agency doctor only gets 20 of them to make their assessment of disability.

Yes, it is frustrating and outrageous to think that you have paid all these years to be covered in case of disability and the agency appears to have little regard for your case. The main reason for such limited review of records is lack of funds. As with any government agency, the economy and resources are limited and there is an underlying mentality of “anything you can do to deny a case, do it.” It is particularly disturbing when the person is absolutely unable to any work and does not have any source of funds to support themselves while the case is pending. Some cases can take up to two years to be finally decided.  The other reason a lot of cases are denied is the fact that there is no such thing as a “pain-o-meter”.  A lot of people live and work with serious conditions and yet are able to have  somewhat “normal” lives. People often have heart attacks or cancer and recover. Other cases involve people with back problems or fibromyalgia and these are particularly difficult to measure pain. These cases often require a hearing and getting a case up to the hearing level will take a minimum of a year or up to two years depending on your state.

We suggest your hire a disability attorney whether you are planning to file or already filed your case. Not having proper representation can cost a lot of time and frustration since a poorly developed record can cause delays (rescheduled hearings to obtain records or hire an attorney) or even longer waits after a denial and possible appeal. If a case is denied at the hearing level, you may be looking at another two years of waiting to see if you will have that decision reversed or whether another hearing will be required. This can take years and cost you time and money that you may not have. While an attorney cannot guarantee that you will win your case every time, he/she can make sure that the records will be properly developed and that every aspect of your disability will be discussed at the hearing to make sure that your chances are increased. If you lose at the hearing (some judges are simply not convinced of your disability despite clear evidence) your attorney will make sure that everything that needed to be done at the hearing was done so that the appeal panel will have an easier time remanding your case for the judge to correct his/her mistakes (it happens quite often). The appeal panel can also simply reverse the decision and find you disabled because the case was so well prepared and the judge simply made the wrong decision based on the records presented. Thinking that you can simply tell your story at the hearing and expecting a good result is a costly mistake. Call the Office of Paul J. Dombeck in Phoenix, Arizona immediately at 602-805-0577. Time is of the essence.