It is truly regrettable that you proceeded to administrative hearing without capable legal assistance. An adept attorney would have been working with your MD and psychologist documenting their opinions as to the severity of your symptoms. While the opinion of the claimant must be taken into account, it is often given little weight when such other facts as the Facebook involvement are in the record. The time period to appeal to Appeals Council is short, so you will want to contact an experienced Social Security disability attorney before any more time passes while it is still possible to submit evidence in your appeal.
Best wishes for a favorable outcome, and please remember to designate a best answer.
This answer is offered as a public service for general information only and may not be relied upon as legal advice.
First, if the decision you just received is from the ALJ - the judge - then you have 60 days to file an appeal with the Appeals Council. At this level they will give you a 5 day grace period for mailing. If they deny your claim, then you have 60 days - exactly 60 days, no grace period, to file a lawsuit in US federal district
This Facebook question has become so prevalent in hearings. I have all my clients take down their account or lock it down with private settings. We actually have our clients disengage from all social media. I believe the judges received a memo from social security to explore this issue.
I believe you should appeal.. What evidence was submitted at trial that you even had facebook, that it was actually you and you were the ones making the entries. An opinion is to be rendered by a judge on the evidence. I was not at the hearing but I cannot see how this was introduced as evidence unless there was extensive questioning.
The fact is many case state that the claimant is not credible. That finding is generally not a basis upon which I appeal. I do usually find ample other flaws in the case that allow me to prepare a very good appeal.
Did you have an attorney? Have you discussed this with him or her? Did he make a record as to his or her objections to the Facebook inquiries? if you have an attorney please contact that attorney ASAP.
If you do not have an attorney you may contact any of the AVVO attorneys. 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/
I also want to point out an option. You could have an attorney review this who recommends giving up on the old claim, and starting a new claim instead - a new claim is likely to be decided much faster (Appeals Council appeals currently take 12 to 24 months to process). Fairly recent changes in the law require you to choose the appeal or a new claim, except in some very limited circumstances. Just a thought - without having seen your decision or your records, no one here on Avvo could possibly tell you which option is better for you.
I hope this helps. Best of luck to you.
Jack J. Adams
ADAMS LAW GROUP
There are a number of good lawyers in eastern PA, especially in the Philadelphia area. Google philadelphia social security attorney and meet with one. I would file an appeal if you have time - but if there are facts that are missing here, well, that could affect what happens.
Hope that helps!. Sorry you have had a rough go of it!
The exact answers to questions like this require more information than presented. The answer(s) provided should be considered general information. The information provided by this is general advice, and is not legal advice. Viewing this information is not intended to create, and does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. It is intended to educate the reader and a more definite answer should be based on a consultation with a lawyer. You should not take any action that might affect your claim without first seeking the professional opinion of an attorney. You should consult an attorney who can can ask all the appropriate questions and give legal advice based on the exact facts of your situation. The general information provided here does not create an attorney-client relationship.
Did your treating physician fill out a Residual Functional Capacity Evaluation (mental)? This addresses his/her diagnosis, prognosis and recommendations for future treatment as well as you ADLs (activities of daily living), all of which must be considered by the administrative law judge. Remember opinions of treating physicians are given greater weight than evaluating physicians. Good luck.