The Bureaucratic Maze of SSA

To say that the Social Security Administration is a complex bureaucracy is an understatement. Anyone trying to get answers or information is likely to be met with difficulty. Indeed, it seems that many of the lower-echelon employees don’t even have a clear understanding of SSA regulations – in one study, 25% of answers provided to claimants proved to be incorrect. A claimant can face a tough time dealing with this huge organization, but a Michigan disability attorney can help.

A Problem of Size
SSA employs more than 57,000 workers. This does not include the nearly 25,000 who provide services for the organization, including:

  • Approximately 8,000 workers at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review
  • 14,000 state agency workers who make the initial determinations of disability
  • 1,300 administrative law judges
  • 34 administrative appeals judges

Even for an experienced Michigan disability attorney, dealing with such a large organization can prove extremely frustrating. For the average individual, let alone one who is suffering from a disabling condition, coping can be nearly impossible.

Compounding the Problem
As if the sheer size of SSA were not enough to create a bureaucratic nightmare, the problem is only made worse by the fact that two very large and unwieldy programs fall under the administration’s disability umbrella, SSD and SSI. Consequently, even if a major change in the rules occurs, workers who have the most contact with claimants are often unaware of its ramifications and cannot provide clear answers to questions.

Moreover, when your Michigan disability attorney works on your appeal before the administrative law judge, he or she faces the difficulty of breaking past routine thinking on the part of lower level SSA employees that can hinder a legitimate claim.

All this is not to discourage or dissuade you from seeking disability; it is simply that you may be much better off having an attorney deal with the bureaucratic nightmare of SSA.

For Further Questions

If you have further questions, or need the assistance of a Michigan disability attorney, you can contact the Law Offices of Christopher Trainor & Associates for a free consultation. We are a dedicated and experienced team and may be able to help you with your case. Call today at 800-961-8477.

How Can My Treating Doctor Help With My Disability Claim?

Social Security disability claimants may be required to undergo certain medical tests ordered by the Social Security Administration. Your Michigan disability attorney will tell you to conform with these requests, but he may have some additional ideas about the medical evidence you can present to strengthen your case.

An inherent shortcoming of SSA-ordered medical examinations is that they merely give a snapshot view of your health. Your treating doctor is in a much better position to give an overall picture of how your medical condition affects your long-term health and your ability to work.

In fact, the SSA is required to give special consideration to the opinion of a treating doctor in your Social Security disability claim. Your Michigan disability attorney may ask your doctor to provide a written letter to the SSA. Unfortunately, the issues that doctors think are important are not always the same issues that SSA decision-makers care about.

What Should a Letter Contain?

The disability question the Social Security Administration will consider is whether your disability keeps you from engaging full-time in any work. Your doctor should not exaggerate your condition, for example, by saying that you can never work. He or she may, however, provide some estimate of what you are able to do and whether your condition is expected to improve.

Many medical conditions have good days and bad days, and just because you would theoretically be able to work every once in a while doesn’t mean that you could hold full-time employment.

The main points your doctor should touch upon in his or her letter are:

  • Your medical diagnosis.
  • The treatment you are receiving.
  • What tests have been performed.
  • Side effects of treatment.
  • How long your condition is expected to last.

Your doctor may provide an opinion about what sort of things you can and cannot do in spite of your injury, but for technical questions about residual functional capacity, you should rely on your Michigan disability attorney.

To arrange an initial consultation about your case, please call a Michigan disability attorney at the Law Offices of Christopher Trainor & Associates: (800) 961-8477.

How the Administrative Law Judge Determines Disability

In order to help you better understand how the administrative law judge (ALJ) determines whether you are disabled, your Social Security disability attorney in Detroit can give you a detailed overview of the process.

Hypothetical Determination
An ALJ’s decision as to whether a claimant is disabled and deserves Social Security disability benefits is a hypothetical determination. In essence, the decision-making process is only based on the claimant’s ability to perform certain tasks at his or her job. The determination does not consider whether the claimant will be hired, but rather that he would not be able to perform the tasks if he were hired.

Evidence the ALJ Needs to Make a Decision
In order for the ALJ to determine that a claimant is disabled, a Social Security disability attorney in Detroit will need to prove two things:

  1. He or she will need to demonstrate that the client’s medical condition prevents her from performing any jobs that she has done in the past 15 years. The attorney should choose the simplest job the claimant has held in the past 15 years and prove to the judge that the client is currently unable to perform even the simplest tasks at this job given the restrictions of her medical impairment.
  2. The Social Security disability attorney in Detroit must show that given the claimant’s age, level of education and work experience, there are not too many jobs readily available in the national economy that the claimant would be capable of doing.

Duration of Disability
To find a claimant disabled, the ALJ will also look at the duration of the claimant’s disability. Unlike a workers’ compensation claim where the claimant may need to prove total or permanent disability, a disability claimant must only be disabled for a minimum of 12 months in order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

Contact Us

For more information about how an administrative law judge determines disability at the hearing level, consult a knowledgeable Social Security disability attorney in Detroit.  Call the Law Offices of Christopher Trainor & Associates at 800-961-8477 today.

Basic Guidelines for Your SSD Hearing

Your Social Security disability hearing comes after denials and appeals; as such, it is important to do all you can to make a good impression. While you are not on trial, you are still going before a judge, and a certain amount of decorum is expected. Your Michigan disability attorney will provide you with advice on how to answer when you testify, but the following information will help you look and be your best.

You do not need to dress formally, as you would, say, to a job interview. However, you will be appearing before a judge, so you should avoid being overly casual in your dress. Be comfortable, since you will be sitting for a prolonged period, but wear nice comfortable clothes.

When to Arrive
Tardiness never makes a person look good. How would your boss feel if you were to show up late for work? It is very important that you arrive on time. In fact, try to arrive a half hour early so that your Michigan disability attorney can go any additional matters with you. Arriving early will also help you to be calm.

Discussing Your Case with Others
You will likely be sitting in a waiting room with others for some time. It is very important to avoid discussing your case. You should take particular care not to make jokes or complain about the Social Security Administration. There are many SSA employees in the building, and you are certain to be heard.

Cell Phones
Make sure you turn off your cell phone before entering the hearing room. The judge is not likely to be pleased if your phone rings in the middle of your or another’s testimony. Really, there is no one you will need to be speaking with at that point, anyway. Your Michigan disability attorney will be in attendance. If you are concerned about being able to receive emergency calls, keep the phone on vibrate.

For Further Questions
If you have become disabled and are not able to work for at least 12 months, you may be eligible for Social Security disability. If your claim has been denied, and you need the assistance of a Michigan disability attorney, call the Law Offices of Christopher Trainor & Associates to arrange a consultation. We are a dedicated and experienced team who will help you with your appeal. Call today: 800-961-8477.

The Law that Lets Employers Pay Pennies an Hour to Disabled Workers

The Law that Lets Employers Pay Pennies an Hour to Disabled Workers

In theory, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is supposed to ban child labor, create a 40-hour workweek, and set the standards for minimum wage. Established in 1939, this law counters rampant workplace abuse. Unfortunately, nearly a century later, the FLSA does not live up to its promise.

Many individuals are still struggling to receive fair pay. It may seem as though all the laws on the books throughout America would prevent employers from taking advantage of disabled workers, but unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

Workers with Disabilities Receive Subminimum Wages

The problem stems from a single clause in the FLSA, which excludes people with disabilities from getting the state’s minimum wage. Even in 2018, employers can still pay workers pennies a day. From Michigan to Vermont, many legal entities are now challenging this law. Despite the criticism, the FLSA’s disability clause is still on the books.

Some non-profit, state and local workshops deliberately hire disabled workers to work for less than the minimum wage. These institutions say that they are helping people with disabilities prepare for a typical job. Advocates argue that these training programs are a way to get cheap labor. Since these are unskilled jobs and require just menial work, they do not train employees for the broader workforce.

What Employees Can Do

Section 14 (c) of the FLSA says that employers can pay wages below the federal minimum wage to workers who have a disability. To take part, the employer has to get a certificate from the federal government’s Wage and Hour Division.

In theory, the employee’s wage is calculated by a test like a time/motion study. If an average employee produces ten buckets in an hour, a disabled employee receives just ten percent of the minimum wage for producing one bucket in an hour. Unfortunately, these studies can be manipulated. One investigation a nonprofit in Maine found that companies made math errors when computing the wage.

Right now, 2,065 employers pay less than the minimum wage. The United States has 228,693 workers who are covered by Section 14 (c). While advocates are trying to get the law repealed, their efforts have not made any progress. Thousands of workers are underpaid deliberately or unintentionally. When someone is being forced to work off-the-clock or is underpaid, the only recourse is through the legal system. Employers take advantage of disabled workers because they can, but employees can change this situation by seeking legal help.

Fight for Your Wages with a Michigan Employment Lawyer

Everyone deserves to be paid fairly. If you feel that you are a victim of improper pay at your place of work, an experienced disability discrimination attorney may be able to fight for the compensation that you deserve. The attorneys at the Michigan Legal Center work around the clock to ensure the rights of disabled individuals involved in unjust workplace treatment. With over 20 years of experience helping citizens of Michigan, we are prepared to take your case. Contact (877) 425-0743 for your free case evaluation.

Appealing an Unfavorable Social Security Disability Decision

In the event that you receive an unfavorable decision, you and your attorney from a disability law firm in Detroit MI can request that the Appeals Council conduct a review.

There is no guarantee that the Appeals Council will agree to review the administrative law judge’s (ALJ) decision. If the Appeals Council refuses to hear the case, the decision made by the ALJ turns into the final decision. Since this is now considered the judgment on the part of the Commissioner of Social Security, it is reviewable by court. It is possible that the Appeals Council will conduct a review of the decision, have it remanded to be heard again, issue a reversal on the decision, make modifications to the decision, or affirm the decision.

The Appeals Council Review
There are some circumstances in which the Appeals Council will conduct a review on decisions made by the ALJ, whether they are made in favor of the claims made by the claimant’s attorney from the disability law group in Detroit MI or not.

If evidence is found and that evidence predates the ALJ’s decision, the attorney from the disability law firm in Detroit MI can submit a review to the Appeals Council. If the case is reviewed, it is generally made after reviewing the record.

Despite it being allowable under the law that you or your attorney from the disability law firm in Detroit MI be heard by the Appeals Council, this rarely happens.

Options for You and Your Attorney from the Disability Law Group in Detroit MI
If there is a denial of your request to have the case heard by the Appeals Council or you receive a decision that is not favorable, you might be able to file for a civil action in U.S. District Court in the district in which you reside. If that is done, your attorney from the disability law firm in Detroit MI will name as a defendant the Commissioner of Social Security. The U.S. District Court is able to issue a reversal of the Commissioner’s decision, make modifications to it, or affirm it. This may or may not involve the decision being remanded to be reheard.

If the decision is upheld by the U.S. District Court, you and your attorney from the disability law group in Detroit MI still have the option of appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals in the circuit of your local district court. In the event that the case is denied by the Court of Appeals, you might have the option of appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court. It has been rare that the Supreme Court has issued a writ to the lower court in Social Security cases.

Speak to an Experienced Attorney from a Disability Law Firm in Detroit MI
If you or a loved one are in need of legal advice regarding a Social Security disability case and the possibility of appealing a decision, it is imperative to have experienced representation by contacting a lawyer from a disability law firm in Detroit MI. For assistance, contact the Law Offices of Christopher Trainor & Associates at 800-961-8477 today regarding the appeals process and your options.