New Mexico Social Security Disability Hearings Attorney
Although disability benefits are offered by the Social Security Administration to those who cannot work due to a medical condition, the majority of claims are denied during the initial stage of the application process. In fact, about two-thirds of initial claims are denied, many of which will result in a disability appeal. The appeals process can be lengthy and complicated, however, and many appeals are also denied. If a disability hearing before an Administrative Law Judge becomes necessary, it is essential to have the advice and counsel of an experienced disability benefits attorney.
Roeschke Law, LLC routinely works with disabled individuals throughout the entire disability appeals process in New Mexico. We are comfortable handling disability hearings and have a proven track record of achieving successful outcomes. As dedicated advocates of the disabled, we work tirelessly to protect the rights of our clients and help them obtain the benefits they deserve.
An Overview Of Disability Appeals
There are many reasons why disability benefit applications are denied. At times the SSA may determine that a person’s medical condition does not meet the definition of a disability. Similarly, if the medical information does not support the claim, the application will likely be denied. Finally, completing the application is complicated, and many claims are denied because of errors or omissions.
When an application is denied, the SSA sends a notice explaining the reasons for the denial and informing the applicant of his or her right to appeal the decision. The first stage of the appeals process involves filing a Request for Reconsideration, within 60 days of receiving the denial notice. The case is then reevaluated by an SSA medical consultant and an examiner who were not involved in the initial decision.
Nonetheless, less than 20 percent of reconsideration claims are approved, usually because a new diagnosis has been made or the medical condition has worsened. If the reconsideration claim is denied, the next step involves requesting a disability hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
What Happens At A Disability Hearing?
Disability hearings in New Mexico are relatively informal. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is not a court judge in a robe, but rather an SSA attorney who is responsible for reaching a decision about the claim. The hearing is typically conducted in a conference room at an SSA field office in the state. The applicant, his or her attorney, and any witnesses will be present. These hearings are not open to the public, however, so friends or family members will have to wait outside.
The hearing starts with the judge identifying all the parties in attendance and reading a statement of facts regarding the disability benefit application. The judge will then ask the claimant questions about his or her medical condition and treatment, employment history, and the limitations the disability imposes. It is important for the claimant to answer the judge’s questions honestly. In particular, it is helpful to to provide specific examples of how the disability affects his or her ability to do daily activities.
After the applicant’s testimony, his or her attorney is given a chance to speak on behalf of the claimant, and ask additional questions. If there are expert witnesses present, the judge will also ask for their opinions. In this situation, a medical expert – usually a doctor, can provide insights about the diagnosis and prognosis of of the medical condition. Similarly, a vocational expert can testify about the demands of a particular job, and how the applicant’s disability prevents him or her from performing that type of work.
At the end of the hearing, the judge may ask a few more questions, and give the applicant a chance to make a final statement. It is important to note that the judge is not bound by the decisions that were made at the initial claims stage or in the reconsideration claim. In fact, the ALJ is tasked with reviewing the case from a fresh perspective and making a fair ruling about the claim. After the hearing, a written notice of the judge’s decision is sent to the claimant, usually within 60 to 90 days of the hearing date.
Why You Need To Call Roeschke Law, LLC
If you find yourself before an ALJ, it helps to have an experienced disability benefits attorney by your side. Although disability hearings are informal, the process can still be intimidating. Before the hearing, an attorney can prepare you for the questions the judge is likely to ask. During the hearing, an attorney can also better present your case, often with the assistance of expert witnesses. Ultimately, having proper legal representation at a disability hearing greatly increases the chances of a favorable outcome.
At Roeschke Law, LLC, we routinely represent clients at disability hearings, and often rely on the testimony of vocational and medical experts. Additionally, we work on a contingency basis, and only receive a fee if the claim prevails, which makes our services cost-effective. We have a well-earned reputation for providing our clients with trusted advice and a superior level of personal service. Our legal team patiently guides our clients through disability hearings and makes sure their rights are protected. If your disability benefits application has been denied, call our office today for a free consultation or complete the contact form on our website.