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Was Georgia woman's SSD claim denied because judge was annoyed?

A Stone Mountain woman has been left wondering why her claim for Social Security disability was denied after she put so much effort into the application and the medical information needed to prove her claim. The filing process for Social Security disability benefits can be immensely complex, and she did not realize that she could have an attorney at no up-front cost. She regrets not hiring a lawyer, she recently said in an interview.

After losing her job and being unable to find a new one because of her disabilities, the woman applied for Social Security disability benefits two years ago. The main cause was a work-related back injury, but in 2002 she had also been diagnosed with an inflammatory disease called sarcoidosis, which can affect the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, eyes, skin, or other tissues, along with fibromyalgia.

As part of the SSD application process, she was required to be evaluated by Social Security Administration psychologist, although her claim for Social Security disability was based on an injury and illnesses. That psychologist found that she needed assistance with some things and that her attention and concentration were poor, which the woman blames on stress due to her unemployment.

In addition to the psychologist's report, she submitted medical reports that she thought would explain more about her back and neck problems. Sometime before her hearing, her neck had been giving her such trouble that she could not lift anything, so a bone specialist had been giving her injections. She thought that her charts would contain that information, or that the doctor would submit a letter explaining. Instead, he merely submitted a generic form.

She did have an attorney at her SSD hearing, but she had never met him before. She got lost on her way to the hearing and was 10 minutes late, which flustered her and made her nervous. At one point, the judge seemed to be frustrated, and her lawyer did not seem experienced enough to know what to do.

Months later, she received notice of her denied claim.

While no one can evaluate this woman's disabilities but her doctors, it seems likely that her claim might have been approved if an experienced Social Security disability attorney had been available to help her. For one, the attorney could have ensured the necessary medical documentation was in order.

The fact is, the majority of SSD applications are initially denied. If you believe you are legitimately unable to work because of an injury or illness, you have the right to hire your own attorney. Legal fees are regulated, and you generally do not have to pay any fee of your benefits are denied.

Source: LawyersandSettlements.com, "Denied Social Security Disability Is Debilitating," Jane Mundy, Feb. 19, 2013

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