A Successful Record With Social Security Disability Claims And Appeals
Qualifying for Social Security Disability is notoriously difficult and frustrating. The vast majority of claimants are turned down when they first apply.
With experienced legal help, you can improve your chances of getting your application approved or fighting a denied claim. Our attorneys have helped hundreds of people in Towson, Baltimore and all over Maryland with their SSDI and SSI claims and appeals, both for physical impairments and mental impairments. Learn more in a free consultation at 410-886-7573.
Social Security Disability (SSDI) Benefits
To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you must demonstrate that you would be unable to work for at least 12 months because of a listed impairment recognized by the Social Security Administration. SSDI benefits are based on how much you paid into the system through payroll taxes, up to a capped amount. For 2023, the max benefit is $3,627 per month. Our attorneys are well-versed in the criteria for the different impairments and how to support claims with proper medical documentation from a treating physician.
Special Consideration For Age 50-Plus
The SSA recognizes that claimants who are 50 years old or older will have a harder time finding and/or sustaining gainful employment if they have a disabling condition. Those claimants are given leeway in the criteria for different listed impairments compared to a person who is in their 20s, 30s or 40s. We can help show the SSA why your age, education and work history should be factored into your disability claim.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Supplemental Security Income is a safety net for people who have never worked or do not have enough work credits to qualify for Social Security Disability. SSI has strict limitations on income and assets. Our lawyers handle SSI claims and can assist with eligibility. For 2023, the maximum benefit is $914 per month for an individual or $1,371 for a person with an eligible spouse.
The 5 Stages Of A Social Security Claim
The first stage is the initial application for disability benefits. You must document how your medical condition prevents you from sustaining “substantial gainful employment.” This usually involves a cursory review by the Social Security Administration and in most cases a denial unless the claimant clearly meets a particular listing or one of the disabilities separately listed to be considered automatically disabling. In most claims, a decision on the initial application is made within four months.
If the initial application is denied, the claimant has 60 days to file a Request for Reconsideration which is a review of the record of medical information. This second stage of the proceedings also takes about four months and allows the Disability Determination Services to review any additional medical information.
The ALJ Hearing: Your Best Hope
If a claim is again denied at Reconsideration, the claimant has the right to request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). This third stage is where the attorneys of Hochberg, Costello & Baron typically get involved. At the ALJ hearing, we present all evidence accumulated through the date of the hearing, including your live testimony to convince the judge of your disability and earnest efforts to work.
This level is where most claimants are successful, with the assistance of capable legal counsel. Our firm has helped many clients prepare for these hearings and present a compelling case resulting in granting of SSDI benefits.
If the claimant is denied benefits at the hearing level, the fourth stage is an administrative appeal to the SSA’s Appeals Council. All appeals must be filed within 60 days of the ALJ’s decision. The Council will review the claim but only for errors of law. No new facts or medical evidence are considered. The Appeals Council can affirm or reverse the ALJ decision, or remand the case back to the ALJ for specific considerations.
Federal District Court Appeal
The fifth and final recourse is a federal appeal. An adverse decision by the Appeals Council can be appealed to the United States District Court (federal court), where a magistrate judge will review the record. The claimant and the SSA are usually required to submit a legal memorandum in the form of a Motion for Summary Judgment, with the magistrate having the same options of affirming, reversing or remanding.
Please note it may take the Appeals Council up to 18 months to render a decision and about one year to take an appeal through the federal court system. For this reason, we put great effort into the ALJ hearing to give our clients the best chance and earliest opportunity of qualifying for SSDI benefits.
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 through the ALJ 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.
Don’t Give Up On Your Denied Claim. We Can Help.
Hochberg, Costello & Baron pledges to vigorously represent disabled individuals in their claims for Social Security Disability Benefits. From our office in Towson, we are able to represent claimants throughout the state of Maryland (and beyond). We take great pride in helping people who are down on their luck and needing those benefits. Call us today at 410-886-7573 to arrange a free consultation or contact us online.