The following are answers to questions commonly asked by our disability clients.
1. How long does the initial level take?
3 to 5 months. THIS IS ONLY AN AVERAGE: some claims take less time; some claims take more time. You should never compare your claim to others as every claim is different. When Social Security makes its "initial" decision, you will get a letter from them telling you whether you have been found disabled or not.
What should I do if I s till haven' t received a decision after 5 months!
CALL US. We will call SSA to try and find out why no initial decision has been made. We can't force SSA to make a decision faster, but we may find out if there is a problem holding up the decision that we can solve.
2. What does SSA do with mv case at the initial level!
Your case is reviewed by Disability Determination Services ("DDS"), a department of Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services in Austin. A government worker, called a "disability examiner," will gather and review medical records of your treatment. The disability examiner then makes a decision on your case with the help of doctors who also work for DDS (but have never examined you).
3. Will Social Security ask me to do anything during the initial level?
You may be asked to do or all of these things:
A) Fill out forms.
SSA may send you a long form asking you to tell all about the things you do and don't do at home since you have been off work.
REMEMBER: SSA will compare what you do at home to what you would have to do on a job. If the level of activity is the same, SSA will think you can work. If you do not know what to say on the forms, CALL US.
B) See a Social Security Doc tor.
Not everyone has to see a Social Security doctor. If you have a regular doctor, SSA should ask your doctor for the information they need or ask your doctor to examine you again to get the information.
If you don't have a regular doctor, SSA may pay for you to see one or more doctors 1 time each to get the information they need. You will get a letter with the doctor's name, address, and the day and time you are set to see them.
Before you go, CALL US to talk over what will happen at your doctor appointment.
C) Talk to the disability examiner.
The disability examiner may call you to ask questions about your disability. We feel it is best for you to ask the disability examiner to CALL US to answer any questions because it is hard for you to know what answers might hurt your case.
D) Help get your medical records.
If your doctor has not sent SSA his/her records about you, SSA may send you a letter asking you to get the doctor to send them. If you get this letter, call your doctor and ask him to send his records to SSA as soon as possible.
4. Will I get my disability at the initial level?
Probably not. Most people are turned down at this first stage. You should expect that you will not win your case at this point.
What happens if I get turned down for disability at the initial level?
WE APPEAL by requesting reconsideration. We may ask you to complete forms to file the appeal. We will file the appeal on your behalf and will send you a copy of the appeal, so you will know that your appeal has been filed. We also will send you more information about the next stage, which is reconsideration.
Mark your calendar for 4 weeks after you receive your "Notice of Disapproved Claim" denial letter. If you don't get a copy of your request for reconsideration and information from us by that date, CALL US to make sure we got a copy of your "Notice of Disapproved Claim." (Sometimes SSA forgets to send our copy).
5. What should I be doing to help mv case at th e initial level?
A) See Your Doctor Regularly.
See your doctor at least every 4 - 6 months. Don't miss appointments. Follow the treatment the doctor recommends.
B) If you Don’t Have a Doctor, Get One and See the Doctor Regularly.
Not having insurance and/or not having money to see a doctor is not always a good excuse because you can get FREE medical care. If you don’t go to a doctor, Social Security will think nothing is wrong with you to keep you from working OR that you don't want to get better.
CALL US for help in finding a place to get FREE treatment for your problems.
C) Contact our Office Before Applying for Vocational Rehabilitation at the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Service (DARS).
Wouldn’t you rather get a new job you can handle than live on disability benefits? DARS can help you get that job. If DARS can't help you, that will be good proof that you are disabled. Either way, going to DARS is good for you.
CALL US for more information about how to sign up for vocational rehabilitation with DARS
6. When should I call The Law Office of Jonathan A. Heeps while SSA is making an initial decision?
ALWAYS CALL US IF/WHEN:
A) You have a new address and/or telephone number.
B) You go to an emergency room, a hospital or see a NEW doctor (not listed on your forms).
C) You are scheduled for surgery or special procedure (like steroid injections).
D) You have a new diagnosis and/or new medication.
E) You receive a letter or telephone call from Social Security.
F) You stop getting medical treatment.
G) You start working (full or part-time).
** Reminder – Please Do Not Contact Social Security for any Reason **