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disability hearing, Social Security Disability Insurance, medical impairments, disability applicants, Chicago Social Security attorneyObtaining Social Security disability benefits is not simply a matter of proving you suffer from a physical or mental impairment. The Social Security Administration must also consider whether there are “suitable jobs” that you could theoretically perform in spite of your impairments, and whether such jobs “exist in significant numbers.” Here, the burden is on Social Security—not you as the applicant—to prove this is the case.

Woman Recovering from Brain Surgery Entitled to New Hearing

How you do quantify the amount of “suitable jobs” available? Social Security typically relies on the testimony of vocational experts (VEs) to estimate the number of jobs that might be available. Unfortunately, many VEs fail to properly explain their methodology, which makes their “expert” opinions little more than guesswork. A number of federal courts—including the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals here in Chicago—have expressed frustration.

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Chicago disability benefits lawyer, disability hearings, complete medical record, disability applicants, disability caseOne of the most important steps you can take when applying for Social Security Disability insurance benefits is to present as complete a medical record as possible to the agency officials reviewing your case. The more documentation you can provide from your treating physicians, the stronger your case for disability benefits will be.

Judge Criticizes Social Security for Ignoring “Overwhelming Majority of the Evidence” in Disability Case

Of course, this assumes Social Security will actually bother to look at the evidence that you provide. As we have seen in far too many Illinois disability claims, that is sadly often not the case, however. In their zeal to clear large case backlogs—and deny as many claims as possible—Social Security administrative law judges (ALJs) will simply overlook or fail to assess credible medical evidence.

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disability insurance benefits, Chicago Social Security lawyer, social security disability cases, social security disability, disability applicants, disability claimPeople are often reluctant to hire an attorney when they have a legal problem. Some folks think hiring a lawyer will make them appear hostile or adversarial. But when you are forced to deal with a large bureaucracy—say the Social Security Administration—having an experienced attorney to guide you through the system can make a critical difference. Indeed, if you are applying for disability insurance benefits, hiring a lawyer may be the most important step you can take to help ensure your claim is approved.

Congressional Auditor Finds Disability Applicants 3 Times More Likely to Receive Benefits With Representation

The U.S. Government Accountability Office, the auditing arm of Congress, recently published a report on “allowance rates” in Social Security disability cases. This refers to the percentage of cases heard by a Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ) where disability benefits were paid to claimants. Overall, the GAO said there was a wide disparity in allowance rates throughout the country. But the GAO also found that applicants who had “representation” when appearing before the ALJ were far more likely to achieve a positive outcome.

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