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The last 3 years of the Covid-19 Pandemic Era has affected almost everyone in the great southern states and areas of Memphis, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana. Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm has first hand experience helping folks submit their disability applications and review those that have been denied. An especially time consuming and tedious task when the country and its federal agencies have been shut down or working on a shoestring of available employees and services. But, the good news is that President Biden is ending the Covid-19 public health emergency on May 11th.

On the one hand, this is great news for all of us living and working in the mid south, on the other hand it may be the end of many unexpected and never seen before benefits as a response to the public health crisis, as it relates to access to healthcare. If you have a physical or mental health crisis or are living with chronic pain and suffering, you know how important access to health care is.  After all, this is the primary reason that people seek out the services of a Heermans disability attorney…they want and need the stability of financial assistance and healthcare. 

During the Covid pandemic, Americans were afforded the opportunity to access the greater health care system in ways that have never been seen before. First of all, every individual became important as a potential carrier and spreader of the Coronavirus. Maybe it’s not the most positive or glamorous way to be recognized; being seen as a threat to others’ wellbeing, but every individual was recognized and this was an important first step to caring for the health and well being of each individual. 

Next, our government loosened the tightly held reins of access to healthcare and spent millions of dollars increasing the health care budget. Since every individual was personally recognized as being a potential carrier and spreader of the virus and needing to be masked up, and later immunized, each individual needed to have access to some level of healthcare. 

Those who were sick had access to a Covid test and suddenly became an important person with a name and a test result number. If you were infected and sick with Covid, you most likely were given a bed in the hospital regardless of whether or not you had health insurance. Yes, the down side was that each individual was also encouraged to self isolate and estrange themselves from one another…but the individual recognized as a part of the whole became important to the psyche of our nation. 

Heermans Law Firm adapted to these times as well. Mr Heermans says, “Our attorneys became efficient in new ways of communicating with our clients, their doctors, and most importantly the Social Security Disability Administration. We were glad to see that those who were suffering from a disability were receiving some level of pandemic style health care – even if we knew they needed a higher level of social security disability.”

So where does this leave things today? Mr. Heermans says, “Since the coronavirus pandemic, the average waiting time for an initial Social Security Disability review has almost doubled, so we have to work harder and smarter, and be even more patient than we did before. We know that the Social Security Disability Administration has also worked hard to process applications and serve Americans with disabilities, we all have to work together.” It is this inclusive point of view that makes Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm special to the people who live in the mid south. Heermans says, “We work hard to earn each client’s trust because they are essentially entrusting their future with us – when a client is granted social security disability benefits, it can be a life changing moment when they need them the most.”

As of today, the Social Security Disability Administration is experiencing the pains of the Post Covid Era; “Some factors driving the backlog include difficulty hiring—as experienced in the larger labor market– historically high attrition in the DDSs – about 20 percent for the last two years for disability examiners— which we are assessing for drivers, increasing medical evidence that must be reviewed, and shortages of medical experts to conduct consultative exams and review cases,” said Shayla Hagburg, the Social Security Administration regional communications director for the Denver area. This statement is being echoed by regional directors across the nation. 

If you are thinking about applying for SSD or SSDI, or if your application has been denied, here are a few points to consider and discuss with your lawyer. 

Eligibility for Benefits

Waiting for an initial review, which has a high probability of resulting in a denial, is a significant hardship for disabled people. Qualifying for benefits is an even bigger hurdle. The basic elements of a Social Security Disability claim are:

  • Qualifying Work: Most adult applicants must have forty work credits, including twenty within the last ten years, to receive SSD benefits. Everyone earns a maximum of four credits a year, depending on their wages. Some exceptions to this requirement apply, mostly for married, widowed, and younger disabled individuals.
  • Qualifying Disability: The applicant’s medical condition, which must last at least a year, must prevent the applicant from finding and maintaining substantial, gainful employment. Usually, SGE means a job that pays enough to lift the applicant, and any dependents, above the poverty line. 

The interplay between work and disability is the key concept for an Heermans SSI lawyer near you. Unfortunately, many lawyers get it backwards. They seek to prove the applicant’s disability prevents them from working. Instead, if the applicant cannot work because of a qualifying disability, the applicant is often entitled to and approved for benefits. 

Filing a Claim

Most people can file a SSD claim online. This procedure is very convenient in some cases, and yet, it can be a very bad idea if your application is incomplete or does not comply with application guidelines.

People generally apply for disability benefits because they have issues completing routine work-like tasks, such as filling out long forms, assembling supporting documents, and making judgment calls. The online application process requires these individuals to do all these things as well as provide supporting evidence. Starts to sound like all of the things a lawyer does after many years of college education and courtroom experience – doesn’t it? 

The online application is quite extensive. A single document must address all the matters that an SSA employee usually covers in a fifteen or twenty-minute interview. 

Furthermore, the online application requires about a half-dozen supporting documents. Applicants must manually scan and upload many of these documents. More on these internet use issues below.

Finally, the online process often requires judgment calls. For example, if Sarah doesn’t have her birth certificate, she must decide if her drivers’ license is sufficient. Or, if Maxine cannot remember all the details about all the jobs she held over the past few years, should she try her best to fill out that part of the form or leave it blank?

Access could be an issue as well. 20 percent of American households do not have a reliable internet connection. Cost of service, including the cost of a phone, computer, and printer-scanner, and availability of service are common issues. And, when you fill out the application online there are a host of reasons that you can lose all of your data and information that you have filled in and downloaded. If you are using a public computer, (at a library for example) you may have time limits and information security issues to worry about. 

Reasons for Denial

Chances are, if you do all these things correctly, the DDS officer will still deny your application. The initial denial rate is about 75 percent. How many of those denials happen to applicants who are represented by an attorney? Well, those numbers usually do improve in favor of the applicant. You know the old saying, “You put your best foot forward when it is the foot of a lawyer”. But, the bottom line is that if your claim is initially denied, the denial doesn’t mean your claim is weak or meritless – it’s just part of the process. A denial often means you must partner with the right lawyer and make some changes to your claim and apply again, or more often, appeal the denial. So, don’t give up and get a FREE Disability Claim Evaluation today! For more information about the SSD process, contact Heermans Disability, a dedicated mid south SSA law firm. Call or text Heermans Law Firm 24/7 at (901) 244-0057. More value added FREE information can be found in our online article library.


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