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It is truly regrettable if this is your first effort to access legal assistance. The outcome for your case might have been different if you had been represented by adept disability counsel. The best we can offer in this public forum is information about the law and legal procedure. In your case the requirement of insure s status must be explained.
In order to be entitled to Social Security disability benefits a claimant must have earned 40 "covered quarters" and 20 of those must have been earned in the 40 calendar quarters immediately preceding the onset of disability. When a claimant works steadily and then stops, this requirement creates a window of 5 years within which disability onset must have occurred. A claimant may apply for disability benefits after the expiration of insured status, but must prove disability onset before expiration. In other words, the date of application is not relevant. Disability is often a process of declining abilities, and the establishment of the onset date is a critical part of the proof to be presented. Without special attention to this issue at the administrative hearing, the last chance of right to present evidence, the administrative law judge can exercise discretion in his finding of the onset date.
Hurrying the Appeals Council is usually not possible. The real issue here is whether there is any evidence in the record to support a finding of onset within your eligibility period.
Best wishes for an outcome you can accept, 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.
I agree with Ms. Sinclair. Appeal to the Appeals Council are successful less than 20% of the time, so you absolutely need an attorney to address what soundss to me to be some significant legal issues. If you are not successful at the Appeals Council, your chances in US Federal Court are not all that great either (the next step in the appal process).
If you are really interested in getting an attorney, you will need to do some work. 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.
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.