In this segment of Do I Need a Lawyer, Gary Martin Hays talks with Jason Mosteller about what to do if you have been denied for disability benefits.
And welcome back to "Do I Need A Lawyer?"
My law firm handles social security disability claims and Jason Mosteller is the attorney that manages that department for me.
Jason, thanks for being here.
Let's go to a question from one of our viewers regarding social security disability and I'd like to get your assistance in helping answer their question:
I am 55 years old and I have been doing construction work all of my life.
As a result of an injury a few years ago, I had to undergo a surgery.
The doctor fused a couple of my vertebrae in my lower back.
Now the pain has become unbearable and I can no longer work.
I've applied for social security disability and was just denied.
Do I need a lawyer?"
Thanks for the question.
Jason, let's start with the question "Do I need a lawyer?" What do you think?
Jason: I'm sorry to hear about his situation. I would highly recommend he contact an attorney to help him with his claim. The application for social security disability is a complicated process, especially if you have been denied benefits.
Gary: Well let's talk about the process. I know the social security administration has a 5 step process they follow to determine if a person is disabled and eligible for disability benefits.
I'd like for us to go over the 5 steps now for our viewers.
Are you working?
The social security administration wants to know if you are working. Explain that for us.
Jason: They will look to see if you engaged in "Substantial Gainful Activity" - which means did you work and earn more than $1,040.00 per month in 2013, then you are not eligible to receive social security disability payments.
Gary: Step # 2:
Is your condition severe according to the Social Security Administration Guidelines?
What does that mean?
Jason: The applicant's condition must interfere with the person's ability to do their job for it to be considered "severe". The condition must prevent you from working for at least 12 months. If it is, then we go to the next step.
Gary: Step #3:
Is your condition listed in the Social Security Administration's list of disabling conditions?
Explain this step for us.
Jason: Sure. The social security administration has 2 lists of conditions that it considers disability. One list is for kids, the other is for adults.
Let's talk about the list for adults.
The list is broken down into 14 categories by body system.
These include musculoskeletal, your senses - including speech, respiratory, and cardiovascular.
If the applicant's condition is not listed, then the department will determine whether or not the condition is equal to one of those disabling conditions on their list.
Gary: Step # 4:
Is the applicant able to perform the same work they did in their past?
Tell us about this step.
Jason: If the claims examiner at the social security administration believes that the applicant is able to do the same kind of work they have done in the past, then they will deny their claim for benefits.
Gary: Step #5:
Is the applicant able to do any other work?
So if you can't do the same kind of work you did in your past, the examiner wants to find out if you can do any kind of work? Explain that for us.
Jason: The claims examiner will look at your application. They review your medical condition, your age, what job skills you may have, and your educational background. Then they look to see if they believe you are capable of doing other types of work in the economy. If so, they will deny your claim.
Gary: Assume someone gets through this 5 step process. what are the chances the person will be approved for social security disability on their initial application?