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What Social Security Applicants Need to Know About Federal District Court

If you were to survey individuals who have pursued Social Security Disability claims, most would tell you that waiting for a decision is the hardest part of theWhat Social Security Applicants Need to Know About Federal District Court journey. As time goes on, that wait gets longer. If your case reaches the Appeals Council, you’ve been waiting for a long time, and there is a good chance that your case will be denied again.

So, what are you to do? Many people simply give up at this stage, but there are options. You may still appeal to the Federal District Court.

To appeal to the Federal District Court, you must file your appeal within 60 days of the Appeals Council decision. If you fail to appeal within the 60-day time period, you will have to start the process over again from the beginning.

If you file your appeal in a timely manner, then you will pursue your case with the Federal District Court. The most important thing to know at this point is that the process becomes even more complicated then it was before. The intensity level picks up, and there is even more paperwork. If you haven’t hired an attorney to represent you before, this would be an excellent time to seek one’s assistance.  It’s important to note that it may be difficult to find an attorney who will step in this late in the process.

Further proof that you’re in the major leagues is evident when you realize that the Federal District Court does not allow any additional documents or evidence to be submitted. Essentially you (or more accurately, your lawyer) have to prove that the SSA was wrong in their findings based on what the Administrative Law Judge had to review at the time of your hearing.

Once everything is submitted and the arguments have been made, it’s time for the Federal District Court to make their decision. Or is it? The Federal District Court may actually decide to do one of three things:

  • Decide to uphold the decision made by the Social Security Disability Appeals Council.
  • Decide to remand your case for additional review by the Social Security Administration.
  • Decide to grant you your Social Security Disability benefits.

One of the best things you can do before your case reaches this level is hire a qualified Social Security Attorney. Since 1994, our firm has helped thousands of people get the benefits they deserve. If you’d like to know more about the services we provide, call us today for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-Jan Dils. (1-877-526-3457.) If you can’t talk now, fill out this form and a member of our team can call you at a better time. If you would like to learn even more about the Social Security Disability Process, request a free copy of our book here.

What To Do After Your SSDI Benefits are Discontinued

SSDI benefits

Nearly everyone who receives SSDI benefits will go through a Continuing Disability Review (CDR) at some point. The SSA requires these reviews to make sure you still qualify for your SSDI benefits. If your disability has improved, your benefits payments might be discontinued.

The frequency of a CDR will depend on the type of disability you have. Some conditions are expected to improve quickly and will have more regular CDRs. While other disabilities, like an amputation, are not expected to improve and will have less frequent CDRs.

The SSA can cut SSDI benefits if they find your disability has improved enough for you to return to some level of work. If your SSDI benefits are cut you can still receive payments up to two months after you get a notification from the SSA. Obviously this can be a very stressful time in your life, especially if you can’t find work.

Appealing An SSDI Benefit Continuance

The good news is that you can appeal this decision. As you might have guessed, there’s a strict time limit on this appeal. You have 60 days to file your appeal for continued SSDI benefits. During this appeals process you can still receive benefits, but you only have 10 after receiving notice to file a Request for Reconsideration. This request must clearly state that you want to receive benefits while appealing.

What is a Vocational Expert?

When you head to your administrative law judge (ALJ) hearing there’s a lot to remember. What to do, what to say, what to bring, and all the different people who will be there. You’ll obviously be there, hopefully you’ll have a Parkersburg disability lawyer with you, the judge will be there, and a vocational expert will probably be there too.


A vocational expert is there to be an unbiased third party. These experts are well trained and educated on lost wages, the job field, disability, and other relevant issues. The ALJ will appoint a vocational expert in every case that non-exertion limitations are claimed. Non-exertion limitations refer to all limitations that are not limitations like the ability to sit, stand, walk, lift, push and pull.


Vocational experts won’t always actually be in the room during the hearing, sometimes they will be phoned in. Whether in person or on the phone, the ALJ will ask them questions about your job opportunities and your disability, such as:


  • Can the claimant perform their old job?
  • What other jobs can the claimant perform?
  • How does the claimant’s disability limit their job options?


After the judge finishes questioning the vocational expert, you or your West Virginia social security attorney will be allowed to question them. If the vocational expert claimed there were jobs you’re capable of doing, this time allows you to possibly show why they are wrong.


Vocational experts typically have a large impact on the judge’s decision, so you need to be prepared for them. Since they have no stake in the matter they aren’t working against you, but they certainly aren’t trying to do you any favors.


An experienced social security disability lawyer will know and prepare for the vocational expert and help you get through your ALJ hearing.

What if Social Security Overpays Me?

SethWhat happens if Social Security contacts you and says that they have given you too much money?  What if they expect you to pay back that money?  What does this mean, and what do you do now?

It can be hard to believe that after fighting so long and hard to receive disability benefits that Social Security can send you a simple piece of mail that says that you’ve been given too much money.  This is called a Notice of Overpayment.  There are many reasons why this could have happened.  Probably the most common reason is that you simply forgot to report some change in your life to Social Security such as getting a part-time job, a change in marital status, or maybe your child moved out of the house.  It is also possible that your income was more than you estimated or maybe Social Security made a mistake when they determined your benefits.  Even if you did have a change in your life and you reported it to Social Security, there may have been a delay in changing your monthly benefits.

If you do happen to receive a Notice of Overpayment, it is very important for you to read the notice carefully.  It should tell you what amount you were overpaid.  It will also tell you to pay Social Security back that amount within 30 days.  This means you need to figure out what is going on quickly.  Double check the dates and amounts that the notice gives you and try to figure out if you were really overpaid the total that Social Security says. There are a couple different actions you can take once you know what is going on, one of which is to ask for a waiver of overpayment.

If you agree that you were overpaid, you can still ask SSA to waive the overpayment so thatSpark you don’t have to pay it back.  If you think that the overpayment was not your fault AND you can’t afford to pay the money back, you should ask for a waiver.  Get a form called Overpayment Recovery Request (you can get this online or ask for one at your local Social Security office). This form asks you questions about whether you reported the change or reason for the overpayment to SSA and whether you knew that you should report the change. It also asks questions about your income.  You must show both that the overpayment was not your fault and that you do not have enough money to pay it back.

If the overpayment is $1000 or less, you did not cause the overpayment by making a false statement, and you request the waiver, Social Security must automatically waive your overpayment.  If you meet all three of these qualifications, it should be a fairly easy process.  If you do not meet all three, SSA may not give you a waiver.  But don’t worry.  You can then ask for an administrative hearing.  If they still deny the waiver at that point, you can ask for an appeals council to review your request.  If you are still not able to get a waiver, you can take the case to court, but make sure you have a lawyer for this step.

The most important part of the waiver is proving that the overpayment is not your fault.  Some reasons that may help show this are: you have trouble reading or trouble understanding directions, you don’t remember the reporting rules from when you applied for disability, or that you believe you already reported the change to SSA.  You must be able to prove this in order to be considered for the waiver at any stage.

Whether you decide to ask for a waiver or you choose to do something else about your Notice of Overpayment, the most important things you can do are to make sure you understand the notice and to act quickly.  If you just set the notice aside, Social Security will start taking payments out of your disability checks to pay back the overpayment.  Therefore, the best thing you can do to protect yourself is to be prepared!



How Does Incarceration Affect my Social Security Disability Benefits?

SethUnfortunately, there are times when a person applying for, or an individual receiving, Social Security Disability Benefits becomes incarcerated. This can have an impact on a potential, or existing, recipients of benefits. According to Social Security Administration Rules, no monthly benefits will be paid to an individual for any part of a month that the recipient is incarcerated for the conviction of a felony.

If a person who has never received Social Security Disability Benefits is currently incarcerated and wishes to apply for benefits, they need to be released from prison in order to be considered for benefits. If the individual knows their release date, they can apply for benefits shortly before being released; however, their “Onset date” (the date on which they became disabled) cannot be prior to their release date.

If a person currently receiving Social Security Disability Benefits is incarcerated, their benefits will cease. According to Social Security Administration Rules, if an individual receiving benefits is convicted of a felony and incarcerated, any disability payments he/she was receiving will stop at the time of incarceration. No further payments will be issued until the recipient is released.

However, any Auxiliary Benefits from Social Security for the recipient’s dependents would continue as long as the recipient(s) are eligible.

Please note the rules for Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, Benefits are different.

For more information pertaining to SSA Benefits and incarceration, as well as getting benefits restored, please visit SSA’swebsite .

Why Should I Hire an Attorney for my Social Security Claim?

SparkyIf you are thinking about filing an application for Social Security Disability benefits, you may have no idea how to get started. If you have already filed an application for benefits, you already know how confusing it can be. You may be thinking about hiring an attorney to help with your claim but what are the benefits to hiring an attorney?

Social Security is a very specialized process and an attorney that is familiar with Social Security Disability is going to be very familiar with the many laws and procedures involved in processing your claim for benefits. An attorney is going to be able to help guide you through the processes from starting an application all the way through to a hearing if need be. Your attorney can offer advice and help educate you through the in’s and out’s. I find that clients really enjoy having someone who can answer their questions so that he/she understands what is going on and why. Understanding Social Security Disability rules and regulations and having someone explain these to you in terms that you can understand can help relieve your frustration.

Your attorney will assist you in completing any forms that SSA requires you to fill out, file any needed appeals with SSA, request your medical records and submit relevant records to SSA,  correspond with SSA and the hearings office about your claim and represent you at a hearing. Your attorney can also help resolve payment problems with SSA after you have been approved.

If you are interested in applying for Social Security Disability, or even if you have already been denied, give our office a call for a free consultation today. You can reach us toll free at 1-877-526-3457. Also, check us out online at

What is an Amended Onset Date?

When you first make your application for disability, you are asked the date you became disabled or unable to work full-time.  This date is referred to as your onset date of disability.

In the course of your disability claim, many things can happen that may require you to change or amend your onset date to a different date other than the one you initially gave.  Sometimes, claimants will return to work and earn too much money to still qualify for disability insurance benefits.  They may work for a few months and then, due to their condition, not be able to continue. If this happens, then sometimes the onset date of their disability must be amended to the date they last worked.

Another reason for amending an onset date is if there has been a prior unfavorable ALJ decision in your past.  If you have been denied previously by an ALJ, then typically you cannot reapply and allege an onset date within the same period that the ALJ reviewed and based his decision on. The general rule of thumb in these cases is to amend your onset date to the day after the ALJ’s denial.

Again, another reason for amending an onset date can be based upon the medical evidence in your file.  Remember the ALJ must make a decision based on the medical evidence of record.  In some cases the medical records will support a finding of disability at a later date, perhaps when you have been able to seek appropriate testing or documentation of your condition and how it affects your capabilities.

When you are amending your onset date, always be sure you understand how the change will affect your rights regarding back pay, appealing and any future applications.

If you are interested in becoming a client, give us a call: 1-877-526-3457, or tell us about your claim now.

What are the different levels of work according to SSA?

There are five basic levels of work the SSA uses to categorize all types of physical work.  The SSA will review your work history and job descriptions, which you report to them, and compare them with a database of all the same types of jobs and determine a physical functional level of that work.

The five levels are simplified as follows:

Sedentary Work–Lifting up to 10 pounds occasionally and less than that amount frequently. Sedentary work involves sitting most of the time, but may involve walking or standing for brief periods of time.

Light Work–Lifting up to 20 pounds occasionally and up to 10 pounds frequently. Light work typically involves being on your feet more than you are sitting.

Medium Work–Lifting 20 to 50 pounds occasionally and 10 to 25 pounds frequently. The physical demand requirements are in excess of those for Light Work and involve being on your feet generally most of the day.

Heavy Work–Lifting 50 to 100 pounds occasionally and 25 to 50 pounds frequently. The physical demand requirements are in excess of those for Medium Work.

Very Heavy Work—Lifting in excess of 100 pounds occasionally and in excess of 50 pounds of force frequently.  The physical demands are in excess of those for Heavy Work.

Having your past work accurately described and defined can be important to your claim especially the older you get. Your past work, your age and your education can all come together to meet certain criteria to assist your being found disabled per what SSA calls a GRID rule.

If you are interested in a free consultation, give our office a call today: 1-877-526-3457, or tell us about your case.


What happens if I receive a “Notice of Review”

Unfortunately, if an administrative law judge issues a favorable decision in your claim, it does not mean that you are “in the clear.” The appeals council has the authority of issuing a review of any decision within 60 days. Some cases are reviewed after they have been referred to the appeals council, while others are randomly selected.

Once the appeals council has decided to review a claim, both the claimant and the representative will be informed by written letter. This letter is referred to as a “Notice of Review.” The appeals council has several options upon their review. They can affirm the judge’s decision, modify it, remand the claim back to the Office of Adjudication and Review (the hearing office) or reverse the decision completely.

If the appeals council fails to produce a final decision within 110 days of the date written on your judge’s decision notice, you will be eligible for interim benefits. Interim benefits will equal the amount of your monthly benefits, however, you will not receive your past-due benefits at this time. These benefits will continue until a final decision is made. A remand back to the hearing office is not a final decision.

Interim benefits will not be considered overpayments. This means that even if the final decision is rendered unfavorable, you will not have to pay the benefits back to the Social Security Administration. Unfortunately, though your retroactive benefits should not be released during this review process, it can happen by oversight. In the event that you have received a lump sum of retroactive benefits while your claim is being reviewed, you should immediately notify the SSA and your representative. It is also important that you do not spend this money. If the final decision on your claim is unfavorable, these retroactive benefits will be considered an over payment unlike your monthly interim benefits and the SSA will be asking for reimbursement.

If you would like to know what we can do to help you get your Social Security Benefits approved, call us today for a free consultation, 1-877-526-3457. If you would rather be contacted by our office, fill out this form now.

What does a Federal District Court mean in Social Security Disability?

The Federal District Court (FDC) is the highest court of law that your disability claim will go to. All arguments made with the FDC are made in writing. You will not attend a trial or meet with an administrative law judge at this level. Matter of fact, the FDC will not decide whether or not you are disabled.

The FDC’s primary responsibility is to decide whether or not the law was properly followed by the administrative law judge that decided your claim. It could take up to 18 months or more to wait for a decision by the FDC and successful arguments to the FDC will result in a new hearing for you. In order to file an appeal to the FDC, your claim must have been unsuccessful at the Appeals Council.

It will generally cost you $350 to file in FDC, however, depending on your current financial state you may qualify for this fee to be waived at the time of filing.  You will also not owe your representative more than the current allowable amount as defined by SSA. In 2014, this amount is 25% with a maximum $6,000. However; your representative may petition the courts and ask to be paid fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act, also known as EAJA. These fees, if awarded to your representative, will be paid for by the government and not by you. The amount of EAJA fees will be paid based upon the work put forth by your representative.

Though you may continue treating for your medical conditions, the FDC generally will not review your current medical records. The decisions made by the FDC will be based upon the medical evidence available at the time of your hearing that the administrative law judge based his or her decision on. However, in some cases you may be able to file a subsequent claim while your previous claim is pending with the FDC in which your current treatment records will be beneficial.

As stated previously, filing in Federal District Court requires an error in the law. This court will not decide whether or not you are disabled, therefore, arguments made must reflect a clear unmistakable error that could change the potential outcome of your claim.

If you have additional questions regarding the Federal District Court, please contact our office at 1-877-526-3457. If you would rather be contacted by a member of the Jan Dils staff, fill out this form now so that we can give you a call.