Social Security disability is a federal program that compensates eligible workers who have developed a disability and can no longer work. In Pennsylvania and nationwide, a disability claim must prove that the individual cannot engage in any substantial gainful work activity. This can generally be proved by the claimant's submission of medical evidence.
In many instances, an individual first applying for benefits will be turned down by the social security office based on the lack of a disability. That is almost a rote procedure for the offices nationally and seems to be used more as a screening procedure to cut down on the number of claims going forward. In any event, the most effective procedure after being initially rejected is to immediately consult with an experienced Social Security disability attorney for further assistance.
In such cases, the attorney can file an appeal on the claimant's behalf. No legal fees usually are paid at this stage. In fact, most of these cases are accepted on a contingency basis, meaning that the attorney must win the case to get compensated. Usually, if the case is won, the government will deduct the legally authorized amount and mail it separately to the attorney so that the claimant does not have to be concerned with the payment procedures.
Generally speaking, an appeal will lead to the scheduling of a hearing before an administrative law judge who hears Social Security disability claims. Prior to the hearing, your attorney will engage in an intensive effort to obtain and review all potentially relevant medical records and doctors' reports relating to your condition. If possible, a letter from the treating physician will be entered on record with the medical conclusion that you're unable to engage in any substantial gainful work activity.
Sometimes, in the hearing held in Pennsylvania on the disability claim, the government will send a vocational expert to the hearing. That person will be asked to give an opinion regarding whether there is any work in the labor market that the claimant can perform. Only an experienced Social Security disability counsel can know the ins and outs of effectively cross-examining that critical witness, and even getting him to agree at times with the claimant's position.
Source: herald-review.com, Social Security, Gerald Tilley, Dec. 19, 2013