Social Disability Lawyer Blog

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Will Social Security judges approve more cases due to the Coronavirus crisis?

Will Social Security judges approve more cases due to the Coronavirus crisis?

The Covid-19 pandemic has already impacted how things work overall for the public. Meanwhile the Social Security Administration has also made a series of changes in its social security policies in how it processes your disability claims. For instance, the SSA is no holding more video teleconferencing hearings than in-person hearings, the hearing appeals are delayed if not postponed to months later, there is lesser staff in the SSA's field offices and more working remotely from their homes.

There are 61 million people with disabilities in the United States. One-third of U.S. households have people with disabilities, and that number will likely increase over time, as the long-term effects of the Coronavirus are still unknown. It is clear from past outbreaks such as the Spanish flu, Influenza Epidemic, scarlet fever, and polio that any governmental response should include people with disabilities—both those disabled individuals who acquire the Coronavirus and those who may become disabled because of it. Considering the broader economic and health care impacts that the virus is having—as well as the significant poverty that people with disabilities and their families experience.

The National Health Department states that 12% of the US working age population make up a percentage of the disabled and yet many of them are living in poverty. The SSA and the federal government are aware of this and hence, they are working closely with each other and analyzing and processing your disability claims applications as soon as they can during this pandemic.

However, the good news is that the disability judges are now more aware of how the pandemic has affected the elderly who are already vulnerable due to their disabilities. That is why your disability examiner or the administrative law judge may be more open to approve your cases during this Coronavirus crisis and other cases that had been denied earlier.

One, The SSA uses several eligibility thresholds to make a final decision about your social security claims. These include the medical and non-medical requirements in addition to the statements by your employers, healthcare providers, physicians/doctors or specialists and other people in your home.

However, there are three main eligibility thresholds you must meet in order to qualify for disability. A) Medical records, B) Social Security AIME (that is you have paid social security taxes on your income for the good period of 35 years of your work years and C) inability to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA) at the time of Social Security Application. Yet, the SSA examiners realize that claimants with pre-existing disabilities and/or impairments may now find it even harder to find work in the already deteriorating job market. It is much obvious that job prospects are very dim for the disabled in a market where even thousands of the healthy and fit qualified young people are unemployed and unexpectedly out of work and the job market due to the pandemic.

Another reason of being positive about the disability claims is that more judges are now holding the hearings and evaluation meetings from their homes – hence the reality of the impact of the pandemic is even more visible to the disability examiners and judges. This means that your disability examiner, DE and your disability case judge is more aware that the federal government aims to empower people through providing social security to the needy as much as they deserve; the SSA staff are now working harder than ever to proceed the cases so the federal government could distribute the income benefits to the needy to help them survive this global crisis. It is common sense that the less healthy people who are unable to make their ends meet need this financial help even more.

Two, while it is true that the disability examiners and the judges are responsible for developing the medical record, they are expected to be a little lenient in today's crisis. This does not mean that you do not need to meet the medical requirements. However, due to much of the hospitals being held for the Coronavirus pandemic and other serious emergencies, it is now very difficult to hold in-person meetings with your doctors/physicians to fill out the social security testimony form for your disability.

Also, many disability claimants are already unfit/unable to carry out such hectic tasks on their own even without the pandemic. So, now, many claimants and their families are afraid to the dangers of being exposed to unnecessary hospital environments during this pandemic. The good thing is, the social security examiners and judges are aware of this situation, hence they are now focusing more on the non-medical eligibility checks than the medical records.

For this reason, the judges are more likely to listen to what your employer or healthcare provider at home about how your disability limits your day to day functioning and your ability to perform substantial gainful activity. Hence, you may have a higher chance of getting your disability claims approved during the pandemic due to the limitations that the pandemic's environment is now providing.

So, while it may never be 100% certain that your disability case would be approved if your disability is held during the reeling crisis of the global pandemic, it is true that you may find that your disability examiner, DE or judges are more willing to listen to what you have to say and to be more sympathetic to your situation. This does not mean, however, that you could get away with fake documents/disabilities. Remember, manipulating the SSA to earn disability benefits while you are not eligible may completely jeopardize your prospects of earning disability benefits in your future when you could really need it.

We suggest that you work with a disability attorney to prepare for your disability hearing for two reasons.

  • i. Since the video teleconferencing limits the amount of face to face interaction with your judge, you may not be able to convince them properly or show fully how your disability affects your day-to-day functioning.
  • ii. With the non-medical requirements being given more importance now than the medical records, this means that your disability claims depend a lot on what and how you and your testimonies say. It is up to you to present your case to the judge in the best understandable way as possible.

A disability attorney does hundreds of disability cases each month and are more aware of what a judge might expect from your statements, body language, your employer's testimonies or statements from your family members. Hence, they may better be able to help you develop the right attitude to win your disability claims that you deserve.

If you or a loved one needs help with their disability claims at any point of their disability application, you may avail our counsel.

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Thursday, 13 August 2020