I filed an SSDI claim for multiple mental disorders, was denied and am now awaiting ALJ hearing. It has already been assigned to a judge. My intent is to hire an SSDI lawyer because this is too much for me. However I was speaking with the judge's case technician and asked about on the records reviews. She said definitively that they (I don't know if they mean the judge or the office) does not grant OTR requests for mental conditions because mental illnesses are subjective, and there are no tests like lab work or MRIs to support it.
Now I don't feel like they take mental illness seriously at all, and are subject to a different set of rules. When I start talking to lawyers, is there anything they can do about this, or do I just have to take it?
Below are some links to SSA rules/publications concerning allegations of bias by an ALJ or by SSA. While these links will clarify the bases and procedures for bias, I do not recommend that you file a claim alleging bias, given the limited information in your question. A case technician would or should not determine the criteria for when a case will be decided in an On the Record (OTR) review, and this case technician may not accurately be stating the ALJ's opinion concerning OTR rulings in mental impairment cases. Also, OTR determinations are the small minority of favorable decisions issued by ALJs, as most judges must hold a hearing to resolve the conflict in the medical opinion about your eligibility. I also recommend you consult with a local attorney about representation at a hearing. Good luck.
SSA publication - http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10071.html#a0=-1
HALLEX - http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/hallex/I-03/I-3-1-25.html
POMS - https://secure.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0203103300
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You need to talk with an experienced local SS attorney right away. These type of cases are hard to win, but not impossible.
DISCLAIMER: David J. McCormick is licensed to practice law in the State of Wisconsin and this answer is being provided for informational purposes only because the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship.
Mr. McCormick is correct. Mental illness is a difficult disability to prove because the claimant must prove through medical evidence that the mental illness is so severe as to preclude work at any kind of job. The severit of mental illness can range from mild to extreme, and it is often impossible to discern severity from the medical records. it has been my totally consistent experience that these cases are winnable only when an adept attorney works closely with a caring and articulate treating physician to document the needed supporting medical opinion. This process takes some time, so it will be prudent to retain counsel promptly. Also, with a cooperative treating physician an OTR is definitely possible. If you do not know an attorney with the needed qualifications, request a referral at www.nosscr.org.
Best wishes for a favorable outcome and please remember to designate a best answer.
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My colleagues are correct. You may want to talk to an attorney in your area so you can review the specific facts with counsel. If you do not have an attorney, there are a number of good attorneys in your area, some of whom you can find here on Avvo. You may also contact your local city, county or state bar association to see if they have a lawyer referral program, or you may contact your local legal aid office if you cannot afford an attorney.
You may also contact the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR) for the name and email address or telephone number of attorneys in your area. The telephone number for the lawyer referral service of NOSSCR is 1-800-431-2804. NOSSCR's website is www.nosscr.org.
In addition, you can find a Board certified specialist in Social Security by contacting the National Board of Trial Advocacy. They evaluate lawyers (independently) in many types of claims and require extensive experience and testing before a lawyer is certified. They have a section specifically for Social Security: The National Board of Social Security Disability Advocacy, Divisions of the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification.
Their link is: http://www.nblsc.us/
You may also contact NADR (National Association of Disability Representatives) www.nadr.org – automated Telephone Referral System at 1-800-747-6131.
Most attorneys who do any amount of Social Security work are members of NOSSCR and provide a free initial consultation. In any event, no attorney may charge a fee for work on a social security claim until it has been approved by Social Security. The fee limit is a maximum of 25% of past due or back due benefits you are owed, and many lawyers charge less than the full 25%, and the money is not paid until your claim has been approved.
I hope this information helps. Good luck to you!
Please remember to designate a best answer to your question.
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You need a lawyer. The longer you wait, the harder your case will be.
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I would also agree that a mental health type case is difficult to win and it depends largely on the treatment notes and opinions of your treating mental health professional. An experienced Social Security attorney can assist you in preparing the file for the Judge. Good luck with your case.
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