Appeals of denials of applications for social security disability benefits, also referred to as SSDI benefits, is a long process. In July 2015 the agency reported that it was taking 19 to 20 months to schedule a hearing after one was requested. Appeals of the denial of applications for supplemental security income benefits, also referred to as SSI benefits is equally long. Disability lawyers, like me, who handle these cases need good lines of communication with their clients during this time because gathering medical records is critical to winning the case. Updating the court file with new medical evidence is ongoing and occurs right up to the time of the hearing, sometimes even after the hearing. Contingent fee arrangements are the norm so that the client is not obligated to pay any fee unless the case is won.
The regulations which determine if you will win your appeal vary based upon the age of the applicant, educational background, work experience, and a host of other factors. I often find people neglect to get school records which can very much help win a claim.
One of the more common misconceptions I hear people express is the belief that when their illnesses prevent them from doing their past work they are entitled to SSDI or SSI benefits. In the majority of cases we must prove that the illnesses prevents performing any work of any kind which exists in significant numbers the national economy. This can mean that a person who performed heavy construction and paid a lot of social security taxes for many years might not be found disabled if the judge believes there is light work that could be performed.
Do not go into these hearing alone or with someone you have never sat down with to discuss your case.