Social Security

Hochberg, Costello & Baron represent many clients in Social Security Disability Claims throughout Towson, Baltimore and all over Maryland. These claims consist of both disability and SSI claims.

The 5 Stages of a Social Security Claim

There are five stages to the pursuit of a Social Security Claim. First is the filing of the application for disability benefits. The law requires the initial application to indicate that a person would be unable to work for a minimum of one year and the term used is “unable to perform any substantial gainful employment”. This usually involves a cursory review by the Social Security Administration and in most cases a denial unless the Claimant meets a particular listing or one of the disabilities separately listed to be found automatically disabling. In most claims, a decision on the initial application is made within four months. Should the initial application be denied, the Claimant is entitled to file within 60 days from the date of that denial a Request for Reconsideration which is a review on the record of medical information. This stage of the proceedings also takes about four months and allows the Disability Determination Services to review any additional medical information. Should the individual be denied in this stage, the third stage is the Hearing stage. This is where the Claimant has the right to appear before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and present all evidence acquired through the date of the Hearing and live testimony to prove their disability. It is at this stage that most Claimant’s are successful with the assistance of legal counsel.

Appeals Council

If the Claimant is denied benefits at the Hearing stage before the ALJ, the fourth stage is an Appeal to the Appeals Council. Please note that all Appeals must be filed within 60 days from the date of the last Decision. At the Appeals Council level, the claim once again will be independently reviewed but only for errors of law. The Appeals Council will not review the facts of the claim, but only whether the evidence is sufficient to support the ALJ’s findings. At the Appeals Council level, they may decide to affirm, reverse, or remand the case back to the ALJ for the taking of additional testimony or review of additional documents.

Federal District Court Appeal

Should the Appeals Council affirm the ALJ’s denial of the claim, the fifth and final stage is an Appeal to the United States Federal District Court. Again, the Appeal must be filed within 60 days from the date of denial from the Appeals Council. In the Federal District Court system, these claims are usually assigned to a Magistrate Judge and once again are decided on the record. The parties are usually required to submit a legal Memorandum in the form of a Motion for Summary Judgment at which time the Magistrate Judge again will have the same options as the Appeals Council, which are to affirm, reverse or remand. Please note that it may take the Appeals Council up to 18 months to render a Decision and it usually takes about one year to get through the Federal Court system.

No Fees Unless Your Social Security Claim is Successful

Attorney’s fees in Social Security Claims are paid out of the benefits received and only if an individual is successful. Fees are capped by the Social Security Administration at $6,000.00 through the Hearing stage. Once the case proceeds beyond the Hearing stage and gets into the Court system, additional fees may be ordered. If our office is successful on your behalf, we will also request that you reimburse our office for our expenses in acquiring all of your medical records. Should we not be successful, there are no fees due and no request for reimbursement of these expenses.

Hochberg, Costello & Baron pledges to vigorously represent disabled individuals in their claims for Social Security Disability Benefits.