Denied claim of social security disability claim.

How Do I Appeal a Denial of My Social Security Disability Claim?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) reviews applications for disability benefits under SSI and SSDI. SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) and SSI (Supplemental Security Income) provide benefits for disabled individuals in the United States. Denials of Social Security disability claims are common. An Arizona disability benefits attorney can help you appeal your denial of disability benefits to help you secure the disability income you need to provide for yourself and your family.

Appealing Social Security Disability Claims

An SSDI or SSI claim can be denied for many reasons. Both programs have certain requirements for eligibility, including income restrictions, work history, and medical requirements. 

You can request a reconsideration of a denial of your original application for Social Security disability benefits. Generally, you have 60 days to request reconsideration after you receive a notice of the denial of disability benefits.

During a reconsideration, another individual with the SSA reviews your complete claim. The person looks at all evidence submitted during the review of the original application and any information you provide when you request the reconsideration. If the claim is approved, you may receive back pay for benefits from the date of disability through the date of approval of your Social Security disability claim.

Appealing a Denial After Reconsideration 

There are three additional levels of appeal after a request for reconsideration. Your next step is to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. At this level of appeal, an actual judge hears your case and makes a decision regarding your SSDI or SSI benefits.

Appealing to an Administrative Law Judge involves appearing at a hearing. You are not required to appear at the hearing, but it is strongly recommended. Hearings are typically held within 75 miles of your home. It is also helpful to retain a Social Security disability attorney if you have not done so at this time. An attorney understands the hearing process and how to present the case to the judge. Witnesses, including your doctors and others, may appear at the hearing to testify as to your disability.

If the Administrative Law Judge denies your disability claim, the third level of appeal is before the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council could deny your request for review if it believes that the evidence, laws, and regulations support the Administrative Law Judge’s decision. If the Appeals Council denies your appeal, your final option is to file a lawsuit in federal district court. You will want to seek advice from an attorney before proceeding with a civil lawsuit in federal court.

Contact an Arizona Disability Benefits Attorney for Help

The time to appeal a Social Security disability claim is limited. If you do not file your appeal before the deadline, you must start the process from the beginning if you wish to pursue disability benefits.

Before beginning the disability claims process, you may want to talk to our Arizona disability benefits attorney about Social Security disability benefits. Contact us today.  We can help you file your initial claim and take care of any issues and problems that might arise during your case, including filing appeals if your Social Security disability claim is denied.

Young man with Down Syndrome, getting ready for work.

Down Syndrome & Social Security Disability Benefits

Q: Is Down Syndrome a qualifying impairment for disability benefits?

The federal government offers two different disability benefits programs, both administered through the Social Security Administration “SSA”. The first program, Social Security Disability Insurance or “SSDI”, is available to disabled people who can satisfy the work history requirements, regardless of their financial status. The second program, Supplemental Security Income or “SSI” does not require a prior work history but rather is a means-based program for qualified disabled people who do not exceed the extremely limited income and assets threshold. 

Qualifying for disability benefits for either program requires the applicant meet the federal government’s definition of “disabled” which is “suffering from a physical or mental impairment that prevents engaging in substantial gainful activities and that has lasted or is expected to last for 12 months or more or result in death”.

The SSA has a list of qualifying physical and mental conditions, called the Blue Book. While it would seem straightforward to qualify for benefits based on a diagnosis of one of these conditions, that isn’t always the case. When the impairment is mental in nature, symptoms can be difficult to evaluate which can open the door for a denial of benefits. The majority of initial applications for benefits are denied.

What are some reasons a disability claim based on mental illness might be denied?

Some reasons why disability claims for mental illness may be denied include but are not limited to: 

  • vague treatment notes by mental health professionals 
  • failure to take prescribed medication
  • failure to follow doctor’s orders
  • “lack of duration” –  if the condition hasn’t lasted or isn’t expected to last for at least a year. 

How are Down Syndrome cases approached?

Generally, in 98%of cases, Down Syndrome applicants will qualify for disability benefits as far as the definition of being “disabled” goes, under the statute’s Blue Book section 10.00 Congenital disorders that affect multiple body systems and more specifically subsection 10.06 Non-mosaic down syndrome. For the 2% who have mosaic Down Syndrome, it’s harder to qualify for benefits, but qualifying may be possible using commonly accompanying conditions like cardiac issues, communication problems, vision or hearing loss, and more.

Parents of children with Down Syndrome may be able to apply for SSI benefits at a young age, depending on their income. If they exceed the income and assets threshold they may need to wait or reapply once the child reaches the age of 18. A disability benefits attorney can provide more specific guidance.

Interestingly, the new study shows that “three out of five people with Down Syndrome will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia by age 55”. Alzheimer’s is another impairment recognized as a qualifying disability by the SSA. So those with Down Syndrome who may be able to work in their youth despite their Down Syndrome symptoms may find they qualify for disability benefits if and when Alzheimer’s symptoms appear later in life. 

Contact Our Social Security Disability Attorney Today to Learn More

If you have questions regarding applying for Social Security disability benefits for yourself or your child, or need assistance appealing the denial of benefits, the disability attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation. 

With offices in Tempe, Tucson, and Phoenix, we represent disabled people and their families throughout Arizona in all aspects of disability law. 

Man using the jobs access program to go to an interview.

Solving Transportation Issues for the Disabled

Q: How can disabled people get to and from job interviews or work?

Disability attorneys of Arizona help disabled individuals and their family members access the disability benefits they deserve. 

The federal government offers two different disability benefits programs – Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). The former is available to disabled individuals who satisfy the work credits requirement of having worked a certain number of years while also paying into the Social Security system through payroll deductions prior to becoming disabled. SSI does not require any prior work history, but is a means-tested program where disabled applicants must not exceed the extremely limited income and assets threshold in order to qualify. 

Qualifying for disability benefits for both programs, also requires that applicants meet the government’s definition of being “disabled” which means suffering from a physical or mental impairment that prevents engaging in substantial gainful activities and that has lasted, or is expected to last, for 12 months or more or result in death.

Regardless of whether you are an SSI recipient with no work history or an SSDI recipient hoping to attempt a return to the workforce, the odds are transportation is a challenge. Reportedly, of the 2 million Americans living with disabilities, approximately 30% have transportation barriers that render them unable to leave their homes. Obviously, this impacts their ability to get to and from a job. 

How can the Lyft Jobs Access Program help the disabled?

Recently, rideshare giant, Lyft, announced plans to offer free or discounted rides to help disabled people “access job training and get hired”. Through its Jobs Access Program, Lyft will provide riders with rides “to or from job training programs, interviews and to get back-and-forth from work for the first three weeks of employment” carrying them over until their first paycheck. Lyft has partnered with other organizations to connect with disabled people who could benefit from this transferred transportation program. 

If you have questions regarding applying for Social Security disability benefits or appealing the denial of benefits, the Social Security disability attorneys at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation

From our offices in Tempe, Tucson, and Phoenix, we help disabled people and their families throughout Arizona in all aspects of disability law.

Losing Your Disability Benefits

Q: What should you do if you are losing your disability benefits?

Disability Attorneys of Arizona is dedicated to helping clients and their families access federal Social Security disability benefits in their time of need. If you are fearful of losing your disability benefits, you may need the help of an experienced social security disability attorney.

Qualifying for Social Security disability benefits depends on which of the two federal disability benefits programs you are trying to access. While each program has its own requirements, both programs require the applicant to satisfy the federal government’s definition of being “disabled” which means they are “unable to engage in substantial gainful activity due to a medically determinable impairment that has lasted or is expected to last a minimum of 12 months or result in death.”

In a nutshell, Social Security disability benefits (“SSDI”) is based on work credits and is awarded to those who worked for the requisite number of hours and years and paid into the Social Security system through payroll taxes prior to becoming disabled. The other program, Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) is a means-based program for those with extremely limited financial assets or income. 

It can be a complex and lengthy process to apply for Social Security disability benefits. So, it’s no wonder that those fortunate enough to have their applications granted might be concerned and fearful of losing those precious benefits. 

Depending on which program your benefits are paid through, some of the reasons a recipient might stop receiving benefits include:

  • reaching retirement age 
  • returning to work
  • no longer meeting the government’s definition of “disabled”
  • exceeding the income and/or assets threshold. 

If you have SSDI, your benefits generally will convert to Social Security retirement benefits when you reach your full retirement age. Whether SSI benefits will stop when the recipient turns reaches retirement age is determined by the amount of income the recipient is receiving – because SSI is it means-based program with income limits. 

Because disability benefits are meant for those who aren’t able to work, returning to work can be a reason for benefits to stop. SSDI recipients may be able to return to work during a “trial work period” and still receive their disability benefits as long as they report the work and still satisfy the government’s definition of being “disabled”. This is designed to encourage those who feel they are able to attempt a return to the workforce in the hope of getting off disability benefits without having to fear a loss of benefits if it doesn’t work out. Because SSI is based on income limits, recipients can generally continue receiving their disability benefits as long as their income remains below the threshold.

If there comes a point in time when a disability benefits recipient no longer meets the government’s definition of “disabled” benefits may cease. Periodic Continuing Disability Reviews are conducted by the Social Security Administration as a way of confirming the recipient’s disabled status and entitlement to continued disability benefits. Sometimes, benefits can be lost if the recipient failed to follow a doctor’s orders or comply with treatment recommendations and possibly contributing to their inability to return to work. 

SSDI benefits are not limited based on income, but exceeding the income and assets limits for countable assets is grounds for losing SSI benefits.

Contact Roeschke Law, LLC Today 

If you have questions regarding applying for Social Security disability benefits, appealing the denial of benefits, or need information regarding a loss of benefits, the Social Security disability experts at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation

From our offices in Tempe, Tucson, and Phoenix, Arizona we help clients and their families throughout the state in all aspects of disability law. 

Roeschke Law discusses the impact of legally-assisted suicide on the disabled.

The Impact of Legally-Assisted Suicide on the Disabled

Q: How would legally-assisted suicide impact the disabled?

Arizona disability benefits attorneys help a wide range of suffering people and their families access available government benefits. 

The two federal government disability benefits programs are Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). While the former requires a certain work history and work credits prior to becoming disabled in order to qualify for benefits, the latter requires no work history but mandates the applicant not exceed its severely restricted income and assets threshold.

Qualifying for disability benefits requires meeting the “disability” definition of suffering from a physical or mental impairment that prevents engaging in substantial gainful activities, which has lasted, or is expected to last, for 12 months or more or result in death. The government even has an extensive list of impairments that would qualify for benefits, but the list is not all-inclusive. 

We all know society is not always kind to the disabled. We’ve seen headlines where people with so-called “invisible” disabilities are confronted by angry strangers when using handicapped parking. In addition to ignorant and hateful backlash questioning the legitimacy of people’s disabilities, there is often stereotyping of this disabled as lazy and not wanting to work, and more. 

While these above situations are upsetting, the disabled are also targets of a more dangerous threat – the euthanasia movement. Legally-assisted suicide is a threat to those with disabilities. Opponents fear that any guidelines imposed in such legislation as safeguards would still fall short in protecting against abuse as it applies to people with disabilities. Those against permitting people with terminal illnesses to access lethal prescription medication fear that “society is coming to accept the noxious idea that life with disabilities is not worth living”.

What makes the disabled vulnerable to legalized euthanasia?

Depression, financial and emotional pressures, misdiagnosis of terminal diseases, and insurance companies offering to subsidize lethal drugs while denying costly life-sustaining medical treatment are some reasons assisted suicide laws can be dangerous when applied to the disabled. 

If you need assistance applying for Social Security disability benefits or appealing the denial of benefits, the Disability Attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation

From our offices in Tempe, Tucson, and Phoenix, we help disabled individuals and their families throughout Arizona access the disability benefits to which they’re entitled. It’s all we do. 

Roeschke Law LLC discusses how theme park disability access passes are sparking lawsuits.

Theme Park Disability Access Passes Spark Lawsuits

Q: Do disability access passes and policies provide reasonable accommodations for the disabled?

Disability benefits attorneys of Arizona understand that living with a disability is difficult on a daily basis. Whether the disability is a physical impairment or a mental one—or both—the pain and/or other symptoms associated with it may present the disabled child or adult (and their family) with significant daily challenges. For financial or other reasons, vacations and respite opportunities may be limited and may also present challenges to the disabled—even in the most magical places.

If you thought that qualifying for Social Security disability benefits was difficult—and it is—try navigating a crowded theme park with a disabled child or adult if reasonable accommodations to address the disability are not in place or are insufficient. 

Theme Park Accommodations for Physical Disabilities

For those with physical disabilities, accommodations like ramps, elevators, easy access to the entrances and exits of attractions and bathrooms and restaurants are often made. But meeting the needs of the intellectually-disabled can be more difficult. Particularly for the autistic population. 

Theme Park Accommodations for Autism and Intellectual Disabilities

Autism is a spectrum disorder that impacts each person differently but generally is diagnosed based on serious deficits in areas including social skills and communication. Hallmarks of autism include the inability to grasp the concept of time, inability to easily transition from one enjoyable thing to something else upon demand, inability to wait long, and inability to control what may be frequent daily meltdowns especially in overstimulating environments. Many autistic people never outgrow their love of childish things like Disney and Marvel characters, movies, and toys and other similar interests. 

The Original Disney Disability Pass

Prior to 2014, accommodations for disabled guests at Walt Disney World and Disneyland in California reportedly included a disability pass that allowed the disabled person along with a small number of their friends or family to ride any ride without waiting on the notoriously long lines. The disability pass functioned as an unlimited fast pass. To use it, the disabled person and their party would go from ride to ride and use the fast pass entrance at each ride or in the absence of one, the exit of each ride. But that all changed in 2014 as a result of immoral, healthy, and wealthy people reportedly hiring “disabled guides” to take advantage of Disney’s generous system and allowing their healthy families to bypass the lines.

The 2014 Disney Access Service Card 

Reportedly in response, Disney amended its disability pass system, resulting in a much more restricted access program that many people with autism, or with autistic children, allege is not accommodating enough for their disabilities and special needs. 

The current Disability Access Service Card “allows people with disabilities to reserve a ride in advance, like a fast pass” which means not automatically getting immediate access to the ride, but rather waiting for the fast pass window of time and then returning to ride the ride during that window. In addition, disabled patrons are now not able to ride other rides (without waiting in the regular and usually long lines with the general population) until after their fast pass ride is completed–severely reducing the total number of rides per day that a disabled patron could access in comparison to the old disability pass system. 

Many lawsuits have reportedly been filed and, after about five years, are finally starting to come to trial where the issue of the reasonableness of the disability access service card system will be decided. 

If you or a loved one needs assistance applying for Social Security disability benefits or appealing the denial of benefits, or have any questions regarding disability benefits, the disability attorneys at Roeschke Law can you. Contact our office for a free consultation. 

From our offices in Tempe, Tucson, and Phoenix, we represent disabled individuals and their families throughout Arizona in all aspects of disability benefits law. 

Roeschke Law LLC discusses the major changes that may be coming to the SSI program.

Major Beneficial Changes May Be Coming to the SSI Program

Q: What changes are proposed by the Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act?

Most people know that changes to government programs rarely happen quickly and often offer only minor incremental financial increases, if any. This is evident in minimum wage hikes and cost of living increases over the years.

But a new proposed law has Arizona disability benefits attorneys cautiously optimistic that big change could be coming to the Supplemental Security Income program, known as “SSI”.

SSI is one of two federal disability benefits programs administered by the Social Security Administration. The other program, Social Security Disability Insurance “SSDI” requires that applicants satisfy the prior “work credits” history, having been employed and paid into the Social Security system through payroll taxes withheld over a certain amount of years prior to becoming disabled.

Applying for SSI benefits has no such work history requirement, but rather it is a “means-tested” program for those who are disabled, blind, or over the age of 65 who have extremely limited financial resources. Both programs require applicants to meet the government’s definition of “disabled”. 

Proposed changes to the SSI program

There hasn’t been much change to the SSI program since the 1970s. Currently, applicants must have income and resources which fall below the government-mandated threshold of $2000 for an individual or $3000 for a married couple. While $2000 may have been considered a reasonable nest egg decades ago, it’s far from the case today due to inflation. 

Fortunately, the House of Representatives apparently noticed and is attempting to rectify the woefully low income and asset limits by reportedly proposing the following amendments to the Supplemental Security Income program: 

  • increasing the $2000 ceiling for individuals to $10,000 (a 5x increase);
  • increasing the $3000 ceiling for married couples to $20,000 (a nearly 7x increase);
  • repealing penalties for marrying; 
  • repealing penalties for receiving “financial, food and housing assistance from family members”;
  • increasing the amount of “disregarded income the beneficiaries can take in each month”. 

The benefits of this proposed and sorely needed legislation known as the Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act, or H.R. 4280, will help parents of disabled children transition them into adulthood, will ease the financial limitation problem for those applying for or trying to retain SSI benefits, and will remove the obstacle to marriage. 

Contact our Arizona disability benefits attorney

If you need help applying for Social Security disability benefits or appealing the denial of benefits, the Disability Attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation

From our offices in Tempe, Phoenix, and Tucson, we help disabled individuals and their families throughout Arizona in all aspects of disability law. 

Roeschke Law, LLC discusses how to apply for social security disability benefits.

How to Get Social Security Disability Benefits

Q: Should I file my own Social Security disability benefits application?

Just as most people hire an electrician or plumber rather than attempting those dangerous jobs without the proper training, many people seek help from a skilled Arizona disability benefits attorney when filing for benefits—because being approved is of critical importance. 

But unlike plumbers and electricians who are paid on the spot, Disability Attorneys of Arizona doesn’t collect a fee unless your application is approved. And even then, the fee structure is reasonable and regulated by the Social Security Administration.

A quick internet search on how to file for disability benefits reveals three options that make it look deceptively simple: 

  • applying online, 
  • applying by phone, and 
  • applying in person at your local Social Security office. 

The reality is that the process of applying for social security benefits is lengthy and complex with many pitfalls for those trying to navigate the system alone. It is also the likely reason that approximately 2/3 of all initial Social Security disability benefits applications are denied. 

What happens when an initial application is denied?

If an initial application is denied, there are steps to appeal the denial of disability benefits. Seeking an attorney’s input at this point, if not initially, is highly recommended because you have now cost yourself additional time – time you’re not getting paid for while you might be in pain and struggling financially. 

Regardless of whether you file on your own or with the help of a skilled attorney, you need to determine which of the two federal disability benefits programs you are going to apply for and whether you qualify for disability benefits. For example, Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) requires applicants to have worked for the requisite number of years and hours (work credits) prior to becoming disabled and have paid into the Social Security system through payroll taxes. You need to be suffering from a qualifying mental or physical disability expected to last a year or longer or result in death. In addition, Social Security will consider whether the disabling medical condition precludes an applicant from adjusting to other forms of work. 

The second federal program, Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), is not based on work credits but rather on a qualifying disability accompanied by extremely limited income and assets. 

According to the Social Security Administration, the information and documentation needed when applying for disability benefits includes the following:

  • “your Social Security number and proof of your age; 
  • names, addresses, and phone numbers of doctors, caseworkers, hospitals, and clinics that took care of you and the dates of your visits;
  • names and dosages of all the medications you are taking; 
  • medical records from your doctors, therapists, hospitals, clinics, and caseworkers, that you already have in your possession; 
  • laboratory and test results; 
  • a summary of where you worked and the kind of work you did; and 
  • your most recent W-2 form or, if you were self-employed, a copy of your federal tax return.”

While it isn’t guaranteed, the likelihood of a successful initial disability benefits application is significantly increased when handled by an experienced disability benefits attorney who is knowledgeable in submitting complete and strong applications. 

Contact Our Phoenix Disability Benefits Attorney

If you need help with a Social Security disability benefits application or need assistance with an appeal of a denial of benefits, the disability attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation

From our offices in Tempe, Tucson, and Phoenix, we represent disabled clients and their families throughout Arizona in all aspects of disability law.

Roeschke Law, LLC discusses the best places to work for disability inclusion.

Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion

Q: What employers consider disability inclusion when hiring?

Not all people with disabilities are unable to work. For those who are employable but don’t know where to look for a job, the “Disability Equality Index” is an annual list of the best places to work for disability inclusion. The Index scores companies that practice inclusion in the workplace in industries including financial services, technology, insurance, and healthcare. This list may also be helpful for those sidelined with a disability who want to attempt a return to the workforce if their condition improves.

Unfortunately, many people will become disabled at some point during their working years prior to retirement. Fortunately, the federal government offers Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) to provide a portion of their former salary if they meet the qualifications of the program.

Qualifying for SSDI requires satisfying the government’s definition of being “disabled”. That means the disability must be the result of a physical or mental medical condition that’s expected to last for at least one year and/or result in death. This limits not only the applicant’s ability to perform the work they used to do but any other type of work as well. In addition, SSDI applicants must satisfy the work credits requirement by having worked the requisite number of hours and years and paid into the Social Security system through their payroll taxes in order to qualify. 

Because approximately two-thirds of all initial SSDI applications are denied, it’s important to seek counsel from a skilled Arizona Social Security disability attorney, ideally for handling the initial application, but most importantly, for the appeal of a denial of benefits. 

In the majority of cases where SSDI benefits are awarded, the benefits continue until the recipient dies or reaches retirement age (which is when they’re converted to Social Security retirement benefits). But in some cases, SSDI recipients may improve or recover enough to attempt a return to the workforce. In order not to jeopardize their existing benefits, it’s recommended they consult a disability benefits attorney for guidance on the strict requirements recipients must follow when re-entering the workforce. 

Contact Our Arizona Social Security Disability Attorney for Help

If you need assistance with a disability benefits application or with appealing a denial of benefits, or if you have questions about returning to work, the Disability Attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation.

From our offices in Tempe, Tucson, and Phoenix, we represent disabled people and their families throughout Arizona in all areas of disability law. 

Roeschke Law, LLC discusses a new law that will allow expedited disability insurance payments for terminally ill patients.

Expedited Disability Insurance Payments for the Terminally Ill

Q: Is there a way to expedite payment of SSDI benefits in terminal cases?

Qualifying for Social Security disability insurance benefits “SSDI” can be a long, drawn-out process. It also results in a denial of benefits two-thirds of the time, necessitating filing an appeal – which, of course, adds more time to the process. All the while, the disabled applicant is often sick, waiting for money, and struggling with bills since losing their salary due to a disability. 

SSDI benefits are available to people who meet the government’s definition of “disabled” and who satisfy the “work credits” requirement – namely, that they worked and paid into the Social Security fund through payroll tax deductions over a certain number of years and hours. The government recognizes many physical and mental impairments as qualifying conditions for SSDI benefits

Terminal illnesses are among the conditions that generally qualify for SSDI but the applicants often die before receiving any benefits. 

A New Bipartisan Bill: Expedited Disability Insurance

This may change if new bipartisan legislation is enacted. The bill, called “The Expedited Disability Insurance Payments for Terminally Ill Individuals Act” “eliminates the five-month waiting period for any person diagnosed to be terminally ill” and allows “eligible individuals to begin receiving benefits in the first month”. In order to qualify, two independent physicians need to certify that the applicant has a medical prognosis with a life expectancy of six months or less. This will allow terminally ill people access to benefits immediately as they face their final months and may reduce some of the financial stress. 

Applying for Social Security disability benefits is a complex process and having a skilled disability benefits attorney involved gives applicants the best chance at having the award approved in the most expeditious manner. When you’re suffering and burdened with financial insecurity, accessing these financial resources is critical. 

If you or a loved one needs help with an initial disability benefits application or with the appeal of a denial of benefits, the Disability Attorneys of Arizona at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation. 

From our offices in Tempe, Tucson, and Phoenix, we help disabled individuals and their families throughout Arizona in all aspects of disability law.