Jami Goldman 2013-06-12 00:45:14
Goldman attended Scottsdale Community College, where she was active in student government, Phi Theta Kappa & the women’s soccer team. She attended California State University & graduated with a B.A. in political science & a minor in international studies. She had the privilege of representing NCAA Division III student athletes. As a representative, she spoke on the national convention floor on behalf of students & sat on the NCAA Olympic Liaison Committee. She attended Michigan State University College of Law. She is experienced in Social Security disability & landlord/tenant matters. Currently, Goldman is a member of National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives & National Association of Disability Representatives. Call 602-256-2000 or email JGoldman@fendonlaw.net The Social Security system has become a true “hot button” issue in the United States, especially in light of the country’s budget issues. Recently, National Public Radio took on the issue of Social Security. The article focused on people with minor health issues receiving disability payments and the increase in Social Security as a legal practice area. The sad part is that, although the practice area has exploded over the past 15 years, obtaining Social Security disability is not easy for people who are truly disabled. Let me explain the current system. It has five levels individuals must overcome to receive services and benefits. The first level is the initial level. At this level, the individual applies for the benefit program or programs he or she qualifies for at the time of the application. Social Security offers two main programs under its disability section: 1) Social Security Supplemental Income, which is “needs based” – an individual with physical and mental disabilities and a low income; and 2) Social Security Disability Insurance, which is based on an individual with physical and mental disabilities and having enough work “quarters” into the system. For example an individual, age 31 and above, must have worked five of the last ten years to qualify for the Social Security Disability Insurance program. Reconsideration is the second level. At this level, the individual received a denial letter from Social Security that he or she does not qualify for benefits. The most common reasons for a denial at this level are: condition(s) is not severe, ability to maintain regular daily activities and insufficient quarters. The number one reason a condition is not considered severe is the lack of medical evidence to corroborate the severity of the condition. Medical evidence is essential because doctor reports are objective evidence to corroborate the individual’s claimed conditions. A hearing by an administrative law judge is the third level. The administrative law judge is not bound to the prior denials. At this time, an individual can wait at least a full year from the denial at level two before a judge hears the case. After the hearing, it can take one to three months for the judge to render a decision. If an individual is successful, he or she may still have to wait to receive payments. An individual found disabled under the Social Security Disability Insurance program must be found disabled for five months before he or she begins receiving a monthly payment. Under the Social Security Supplemental Income program, an individual will receive a monthly payment 30 to 60 days after a favorable decision. The Appeals Council is the fourth level and Federal Court is the final level. At the Appeals Council level another set of lawyers and judges reviews the judge’s decision to determine if the evidence and testimony matches the decision. This review takes approximately one year for the individual to receive a decision. At the final level, an individual must sue the Federal Government in federal court for another review. So, is the Social Security disability program really helping those who are disabled when these individuals run out of money, lose their homes and live in an environment defined by their mental and physical conditions? The Social Security program began under the notion of helping people. Unfortunately, now a case can take anywhere from three months to five years. In comparison, on average, a personal injury case can be settled in 6-8 months; a chapter 7 bankruptcy case takes approximately three to four months; and a divorce can be finalized in nine months. Yet, on average, Social Security cases that go to the hearing level take approximately two and a half years from the initial application to the issuance of the judge’s decision. Social Security is not easy to obtain. The Social Security Administration uses an array of sources to deny an individual. For almost all claimants a denial letter is very disheartening since they have worked and paid into a system designed to help. Attorneys, like those at the Fendon Law Firm, with experience in Social Security will be able to understand how to best apply the rules, regulations, etc based on the specific individual’s case due to the corroborated medical evidence.
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