Were you denied in your application for Social Security Disability (SSD), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or Veteran’s Disability? We can help you appeal that decision. It can be a complicated process, so having our lawyers represent you helps make sure you’re following the right process.

Social Security Appeals

For Social Security appeals, the process for obtaining SSD or SSI benefits can often involve multiple appeals. If denied at the initial determination, you can request an appeal. The request must be in writing and received within 60 days from the date you received the decision letter. You can mail in the appeal or fill it out online at www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/appeal.

Four Levels of Appeals

There are four levels of appeals in which Social Security makes a decision as to whether a person is disabled at each stage.

Reconsideration

At the reconsideration level, your claim is completely reviewed by another party who was not included in the initial determination. This includes re-examining all evidence originally submitted and any new evidence. You do not need to be present. However, if the appeal is for a denial based on your health improving to the point you no longer need disability benefits, you may meet with a Social Security representative in person to explain why you believe you still need the benefits.

Hearing

If your reconsideration appeal is denied, you can ask for a hearing before an administrative law judge who was not involved in the initial determination or reconsideration. Before the hearing, you may need to offer more evidence or clarification on current information. You may also review your current file and add new information.

At the hearing, the administrative law judge will question you, your witnesses, and any other witnesses (such as medical or vocational experts). These other witnesses may offer information, and you or your counsel can question them.

After the hearing, the administrative law judge will make a decision which you will receive by mail (it often takes a few months between the hearing date and when you receive a decision).

Appeals Council

If you disagree with the administrative law judge’s decision, your next step is to ask for a review by the Social Security Appeals Council. The Appeals Council looks at all requests for review, but may deny the request if it believes the hearing decision was correct. If it reviews your case, it may decide the case itself or return it to an administrative law judge. Usually, at the Appeals Council stage (and beyond), the issue is not just a matter of whether or not we feel you are disabled, the issue is really whether Social Security broke it’s rules in the way in which they found you not disabled.

If your request is denied, you will receive a letter stating so. If the Appeals Council reviews and overturns your case, the result is not normally an outright win. Instead, the case will usually be returned to an administrative law judge with directions to rectify any errors in the prior hearing/hearing decision.

Federal Court

If you disagree with the Appeals Council’s decision, the last appeal is to file a lawsuit in a federal district court.

Smith Godios Sorensen Inc.represents clients at all levels of the appeal process, as well as the initial application stage. The process can be complicated, but our experience can help to make sure your appeals or applications are filled out correctly and you follow the processes set forth by Social Security. Contact us and let us help make the appeals process easier for you.

What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?

SSI is a government program designed to help older, blind and/or disabled individuals, as well as children with disabilities, who have little or no income and cannot work. It is meant to offer assistance for basic needs – food, shelter and clothing.

It follows the same standards in terms of whether a person is disabled as Social Security Disability. However, this program is funded by federal tax revenue, not Social Security taxes. It is a means based program, and is not based on the Social Security taxes that you have paid into the system.

Qualifying for SSI

You may have a limited income and still qualify for some SSI benefits, but there are limits as to how much you can make, and limits as to the assets you can have. These income limitations vary depending on your marital status, whether you have children, and the source of your income. The asset restrictions generally allow for one house that you live in and one car. Beyond that, you’re typically limited to $2000 ($3000 for couples) in assets, including:

  • Cash, on hand or in the bank
  • Land or real property (other than the exception for one house)
  • Retirement accounts
  • Stocks
  • Life insurance
  • Any other assets that could be converted to cash and used for food or shelter

Let Smith Godios Sorensen Inc. Help You Determine If You Qualify

The qualifications and application process can be complicated and confusing. We can help you determine what benefits you may be eligible for, we can help you fill out and submit the appropriate applications, and we can help you appeal any denial of benefits. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 877-351-2086.

Filing for consumer bankruptcy is a decision that you should not take lightly. You need to know your options and what they mean. It can be difficult and confusing. That is where Smith Godios Sorensen Inc. comes in. We know how to help you avoid common pitfalls that cause bankruptcy errors and delays.

Why Do You Need an Attorney?

There is no guarantee that a bankruptcy will be approved. Working with an attorney can make it more likely that your bankruptcy is approved . We also help you with:

  • Meeting all the legal requirements of filing for bankruptcy.
  • Handling your bankruptcy filing in the most efficient and timely way possible.
  • Determining whether to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.

Chapter 7 or Chapter 13

Whether you should file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy depends on your income and the types of debt and assets you have.  Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows a person to wipe clean many types of debt. There are some exceptions to discharging a debt, including:

  • Most student loans.
  • Court ordered child or spousal support.
  • Some taxes.

If you make too much money to qualify for Chapter 7 or if you want to keep a home or auto in which you are behind on mortgage or auto loan payments, you may qualify for Chapter 13. Chapter 13 bankruptcy helps people reorganize their finances and repay their debt in a manageable way. It is also an option to help pay for the debts that are not covered under Chapter 7.

Foreclosures, Evictions and Repossessions

If you are facing foreclosure on your home or eviction from your apartment, bankruptcy may help you stay in your home longer or permanently.  Or, if your property is at risk of repossession, bankruptcy may stop, or at least delay, this process.

If you face either of these scenarios, you should contact us immediately. You want to file for bankruptcy before a court grants judgment against you in any foreclosure or eviction matter or before creditors attempt to repossess your property.

Contact us today to discuss your options and let us help you make the bankruptcy filing process as easy as possible.

If you feel though you have a legal issue that is not related to disability, we would still like to hear from you as we might be able to help. It is never a good idea to make legal decisions on your own and without the advice of an attorney. Please give us a call if you have a legal matter that you need help with.

Medicare is health insurance for people aged 65 and the disabled.  Medicare has many new benefits to save you money. This health insurance will help pay your medical bills and prescriptions. We can tell you about the different dates when you can sign up for Medicare. We also know about all the penalties Medicare can impose, your rights and more.

There are other reasons why you may be eligible for Medicare. We will help you figure out whether or not you are eligible for this important health insurance. We also look at what you need and what you can afford.  We know about all the government programs that will pay for your Medicare cost and your prescriptions. There are many different ways Medicare can save you money. We can tell you about all the savings.

There is a lot of information about Medicare’s health insurance that we want you to know. Take advantage of our free limited Medicare consultation. We want to make sure you have all the help you need paying for your medical bills and prescriptions.

Driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), or operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI), is the crime of driving a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or other drugs.

In Ohio, if you are 21 or older, the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) for an OVI is .08%.  The threshold for those under 21 and commercial drivers is even lower.  A DUI /DWI charge in Ohio carries severe penalties, many of which are mandatory.  Many citizens do not know their rights when stopped by the police.  To have any chance of successfully defending a DUI/DWI case, you need a lawyer who has experience and is knowledgeable in this highly complex area of law.  There are a number of defenses that can be used to avoid a conviction, let us help you present these issues in court.

We, at Smith Godios Sorensen Inc., have the necessary experience to help you if you are charged with DUI/DWI.   We have fought for Defendants for many years and we would appreciate the opportunity to help you with your case.  Give us a call for a free consultation if you are in need of a DUI/DWI attorney.  While being charged with a crime is almost always going to be negative experience, we believe that we can assist you in making your situation better.

Are you behind on your mortgage payments? Has the bank initiated a foreclosure lawsuit against you? If so, you need to protect your rights. Give us a call as soon as possible and we might be able to help you defend a foreclosure lawsuit and/or work out a deal with the bank that allows you to stay in your home.

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider causes injury to someone as a result of negligence or wrongdoing. This can happen from an error related to prescribing medication, incorrectly diagnosing an illness or injury, or a mistake during surgery. Medical errors can injure a patient at any time.

If you feel as though you or a family member has been injured as a result of a medical professional’s negligence, please give us a call or contact us via our website. While we do not undertake medical malpractice cases on our own, we may be able to point you in the right direction by associating with other attorneys who regularly handle these matters.

At Smith Godios Sorensen Inc., we also represent individuals who have been injured as a results of another’s actions. If you have been injured in a car accident or because of the intentional actions of another, please call us. We might be able to help you when negotiating with insurance companies or when filing a complaint in Common Pleas Court.

At Smith Godios Sorensen Inc., we are grateful for the service of our military veterans. For this reason, we have transitioned to include veterans disability as one of our major practice areas. Since 2007, we have been representing veterans before the VA Regional Office, the Board of Veterans Appeals and at the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

We focus on helping veterans obtain service-connected disability benefits for injuries or medical conditions that can be related to a veteran’s time in military service. If you are unhappy with your Rating Decision/ Statement of Case/BVA Denial, or if you just want some advice, feel free to give our accredited VA attorney a call. We charge nothing for a consultation, and if you hire us, we will only charge an attorney fee if you are awarded additional benefits.

Please see the following links for more information about service connected claims, including two very common issues, PTSD and Do your Service-Connected Conditions Prevent You From Working (TDIU).