A knowledgeable Michigan disability lawyer can help you make sense of the Social Security disability benefits process
The Social Security Administration is a large government bureaucracy, which operates under a complex set of legal rules and regulations. Often, the application of these rules to real-life situations defies common sense (For just a few examples of this, read Examples of who is and who is not disabled. The results may surprise you.)
If you are trying to navigate the maze of the Social Security system on your own, we can help. Here on our website you will find over 100 pages of information and educational videos, covering a wide range of topics – everything from asthma to eligibility, hearings to part-time work and vocational issues. If you want more detailed information, or if you would just like to talk with a knowledgeable Michigan disability lawyer, please call us.
How does Social Security define “disabled”?
A person is “disabled” if he (or she) is unable “to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” Simply put, you are “disabled” and eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits if you have a severe and long-lasting physical or mental health condition that prevents you from working.
What factors does the Social Security Administration consider in evaluating my application for benefits?
In every case, the Social Security Administration engages in a five-factor analysis to determine if the applicant is “disabled” under the law. The five factors are:
- Is the applicant working?
- Does the applicant have a severe mental or physical impairment?
- Does the applicant’s impairment meet or medically equal a Listing impairment (automatically rendering the applicant disabled as a matter of law)?
- Is the applicant able to do his or her previous work?
- Is the applicant able to do any other type of generally available work?
The five-step sequential evaluation process functions like a flowchart. A “wrong” answer at any step ends the analysis and results in a denial of benefits. Read the sequential evaluation process if you would like to learn more about these factors.
My application for benefits was denied. How does the appeals process work?
If your initial application is denied, you may appeal by requesting a hearing before an administrative law judge. This hearing is your first and best opportunity to meet Social Security decision-maker in person, look him or her in the eye, and explain why you should be awarded benefits. If your claim is denied at the administrative hearing, all is not lost. You may appeal to the Social Security Appeals Council and, if necessary, to federal court. For more information on the appeals process, read the articles listed under Your Disability Hearing. The short video “How the Judge Determines Disability” (embedded above) provides insight into the decision-making process. Our free e-booklet, Appealing a Denial of Benefits, provides practical tips and suggestions.
Is an appeal really worth my time and effort?
In most cases, the answer to this question is simple: Yes. Nationally and in Michigan, most (65%) initial applications for Social Security disability benefits are denied. Persistence, however, often is rewarded. More than half of all applicants who plead their case to an administrative law judge are awarded benefits.
A knowledgeable Michigan disability lawyer can guide the way
You may be eligible for Michigan Social Security disability benefits, but if you are not able to navigate the Social Security system, you will not receive the benefits to which you are entitled. We can help you every step of the way, from your initial application through an administrative hearing, and all the way to federal court, if needed. We handle claims for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. If you would like to talk with a knowledgeable Michigan Social Security disability lawyer, please complete and submit the Free Claim Evaluation form on this page, or contact us directly by phone or email.
We wish you success.