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    The Social Security Administration Increases Oversight of Judges In Determining Disability

    Last updated 2 months ago

    The Social Security Disability Insurance program is well known for the unpredictability of the eligibility determination process. Some judges are known for denying most applicants, while others tend to approve most applicants. The judges who make these rulings are given broad discretion with regard to the eligibility of applicants. Now, according to a recent announcement, the SSA intends to improve the consistency of rulings. 

    The initiative toward increased oversight includes new job descriptions for the judges. Their job descriptions will no longer indicate that they maintain total independence, but instead that they are subject to supervision. The new wording will enable the SSA to step in and take corrective actions when the rulings of the judges are deemed to be inappropriate. The move may mean that more first-time applicants will be found eligible, since most are later approved for benefits after the initial denial.

    You can significantly improve your chances of being awarded disability benefits by working with an experienced disability attorney. Residents of the Belleville area can connect with a disability attorney at Dixon & Johnston, P.C. by calling (618) 207-3770.

    Reasons to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

    Last updated 2 months ago

    There are many reasons why people consult an attorney to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. An attorney may recommend a Chapter 7 bankruptcy for those who have trouble making ends meet and for those with significant amounts of debt. This type of bankruptcy will discharge most unsecured debt, such as credit card debt, medical bills, and pay day loans. It will also stop debt collectors from harassing you.

    You can learn more about the benefits of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy by watching this video. You’ll learn about the differences between exempt and non-exempt property, and you’ll learn some of the basics of the bankruptcy process.

    The bankruptcy attorneys of Dixon & Johnston, P.C. can help you learn whether a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is right for you. Residents of the Belleville area can reach our law firm at (618) 207-3770.

    A Look at the Process for Appealing a Denied Social Security Disability Claim

    Last updated 2 months ago

    It can be discouraging to receive a notice of denial for your Social Security disability claim. However, there is a good chance you’ll successfully obtain benefits if you appeal the decision. In fact, approximately half of all Social Security disability applicants do manage to obtain benefits after filing an appeal. As soon as you receive your notice of denial, contact a disability attorney if you haven’t already been working with one. Your attorney can assemble the necessary documentation and file a claim on your behalf.

    Understanding the Levels of Appeal

    When you receive your notice of denial, the letter will include instructions on how to submit an appeal. There are four levels of appeal for a denied Social Security disability decision. The first level is a request for reconsideration, which is a review of your claim by a medical consultant and examiner. The review will be completed by professionals who did not participate in your initial decision. If your claim is denied for the second time, your disability attorney might recommend going to the next level, which is a request for a hearing before an administrative law judge. If this appeal is not successful, you could choose to file an appeal to the Social Security National Appeals Council. The final level of appeal is filing a federal lawsuit.

    Submitting the Appeal Form

    Your disability attorney can prepare the appeal form for you. Depending on your circumstances, you may need to submit more than one form. The form requires your basic information and your reasons why you believe you were improperly denied benefits. The appeal can include additional documentation, such as updated medical records or letters from your doctor about your work-related limitations. Your disability attorney can build a compelling case for proving that you were unfairly denied benefits.

    The appeals process for Social Security disability claims can be quite complicated. Bolster your chances of success by working with a disability attorney at Dixon & Johnston, P.C. of Belleville. You can reach one of our disability attorneys by calling (618) 207-3770 or explore our website to read more about Social Security law.

    Common Mistakes a Social Security Judge Can Make on Your Disability Claim

    Last updated 2 months ago

    Many disability applicants are denied benefits, yet later win their case on appeal. When you file an appeal with the Appeals Council, it’s a good idea to scrutinize the original decision for possible errors made by the Social Security judge. Since understanding the complexities of Social Security law is a challenge, it’s best to hire an experienced disability attorney to represent you. Your disability attorney may find multiple mistakes made by the Social Security judge.

    Inadequate Consideration of the Physician’s Opinion

    The judge is required to give adequate weight to the opinion of your physician. Your physician should have completed a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form or Medical Source Statement describing your work-related limitations. When issuing the decision, the judge must state whether the physician’s opinion was given “controlling weight.” Sometimes, the reasons for giving less than controlling weight won’t pass muster on an appeal.

    Improper Assessment of Your RFC

    The judge’s decision will include an assessment of your RFC that describes the type of jobs you’re limited to. For example, you might be limited to only jobs that allow sitting all day, prohibit repetitive movements, and exclude contact with the public. If the assessment is not supported by your RFC, you have grounds for an appeal.

    Incorrect Classification of Impairment

    Social Security law requires classification of your impairments as severe or non-severe. Severe impairments significantly restrict your work-related activities, whereas non-severe impairments have only a minimal effect. A disability attorney may argue on appeal that your impairment was wrongly classified as non-severe because the impairment restricts basic activities, such as walking.

    Unsatisfactory Consideration of All of Your Restrictions

    A disability attorney may find that the judge did not give proper consideration to all of your impairments, regardless of whether they are severe or non-severe. Even if you have a non-severe impairment, it could still significantly limit the type of jobs you could do.

    For more information about Social Security law, visit the website of Dixon & Johnston, P.C. We are a team of veteran disability attorneys serving residents of the Belleville area and beyond. Give us a call at (618) 207-3770 and ask us how our disability attorneys can help you win your appeal.

    Questions to Expect at Your Meeting of Creditors

    Last updated 2 months ago

    After you file for bankruptcy, you can expect to attend a meeting of your creditors, during which time you will be under oath and required to answer truthfully. So long as your bankruptcy petition is in line with all supporting documents, you’ll likely only need to answer a few questions. If the petition doesn’t match those documents, you’ll be questioned closely about each discrepancy.

    The standard questions for this type of meeting usually include queries about whether you disclosed all of your assets, listed all of your creditors, and filed your tax returns on time. They may ask you if your circumstances have changed since filing for bankruptcy, whether you have used any credit cards during the previous year, and whether you have transferred any property. You can also expect to disclose whether you’re the beneficiary of a trust, whether you’ve refinanced your house, and whether you’re required to pay domestic support obligations.

    When you hire an attorney at Dixon & Johnston, P.C., you’ll receive all the information you need to successfully navigate the bankruptcy process, including the meeting of creditors. Residents of Southern Illinois are invited to contact one of our experienced attorneys by calling (618) 207-3770.



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