|Natalia Jofre:||Hello and welcome to the Hill & Ponton Disability Blog. I’m Natalia Jofre, the social security director for our office.|
|Shelly Mark:||I am Shelly Mark, I’m the senior social security attorney with our firm.|
|Natalia Jofre:||In our last blog, we talked about the reconsideration level, which is basically the second level to a disability claim, and we talked about, at the end, they’re going to send your claim back to the local office. They’re going to make a decision or they’re going to issue you their decision. They’re going to send that to you. Then you have the option to either not continue your claim or if you’re approved, obviously, then you need to look at whether you need to file an appeal, what date they approved you by. That’s very detailed. We would need to dedicate a few blogs to that in itself.|
|Natalia Jofre:||Like we said before, 95% of claims are denied. Most people have to file another appeal. Once again, very specific forms need to be completed and submitted. I would say, especially to our veterans, because I know that in the past or when you’ve filed things with the VA, it used to be that you could send them a letter, or you could let it be known that you wanted to appeal. That is not going to suffice for Social Security. Social Security wants these very specific forms completed, submitted. They need to be received within a specific time frame: 60 days plus five mailing days. You can’t just call them. You can’t just let them know. You do have the option to either visit their office, make an appointment and go there, or submit your own appeal online, or submit it by mail. Once again, we recommend that you send it return receipt requested so that somebody actually has to sign and confirm that they received your appeal. Then I would save that little receipt like gold.|
|Natalia Jofre:||Sometimes it looks like, “Oh, they got my appeal-“|
|Natalia Jofre:||“… they must be handling it.” Then you don’t hear anything for six months, and you’re like, “I wonder what happened?” Then you contact them and they either tell you, “Oh, we never got it,” or, “it’s in backlog.” If they can’t find it, that’s your way to prove that you actually submitted it.|
|Natalia Jofre:||Once you actually send it and they actually receive it, then the next thing they do is they send a letter confirming that they received your appeal and that your case is now with the Hearing Office. This actually recently changed. This letter will say that they need to give you at least 65 days notice before your hearing date. Does that mean that you’re going to have a hearing in 65 days?|
|Shelly Mark:||I was just about to say that that is an extremely misleading letter. The average wait time that we experience here in Central Florida and in most jurisdictions that we work in is 18 to 24 months to get a hearing date from when the appeal for a hearing is filed. A lot of people think that it’s from when they file their initial claim and that’s not true. It’s from when we actually file the request for a hearing with a judge. The 65 days, that letter just means that they have to give you 65 days notice so that you have time to get your records and get your file in the order that it needs to be before your hearing. The hearing is not going to be scheduled in 65 days.|
|Natalia Jofre:||Yeah. Even once it is and once they actually schedule it, they could schedule a hearing now, for six months now, for three months from now. It doesn’t even mean that it’s going to be immediate. What it is a really good time and a really good reminder for you to do is start getting your medical records. Start getting your updated medical records. If you haven’t been to the doctor, go back. This is just letting them know we have your case, but now it’s going to sit here for a while.|
|Shelly Mark:||I always explain to clients that once we file their request for hearing, that their file literally gets in line and it just stands there, and it waits, and it waits, and it waits, and it waits until it gets further down the line to where it’s actually getting scheduled. Really, the most proactive thing you can do during that time is to make sure your medical records are up to date. Make sure that you’re getting doctors opinions if you feel you have doctors that are supportive of your claim. Make sure you’re going to the doctor. Make sure that you’re keeping your address up to date. That’s very, very important. Basically, you just want to set yourself up so that when you are scheduled for hearing, you’re not at a point where your file is a mess, because it’s hard to explain, after you’ve waited for 24 months, why you haven’t gotten everything together.|
|Natalia Jofre:||Yeah. And just to reiterate that one more time, because they do ask us about that all the time. They’ll say, “I’ve already been waiting for a year, so that means I only have a year left before I get a hearing.” That’s not the case. The waiting period for the hearing date actually starts from actually the date that you received this letter, from the date that this letter is issued, because that is their confirmation that they now have the file.|
|Shelly Mark:||Sure, which is even later than it’s actually filed.|
|Natalia Jofre:||So we’ll be talking about the hearing level some more in some future blogs. In the meantime, if you have any questions feel free to call our office or visit our website. Until then, we’ll see you next time.|
|Shelly Mark:||Thank you.|
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