What to do if your Social Security Disability Claim is Denied

The biggest mistake people make when trying to get disability benefits is that they fail to appeal. In fact, more than half the people who apply and are denied fail to appeal. Claimants either give up on the process, file an appeal too late, or file a brand new claim (a mistake). Therefore, it is crucial to appeal within 60-days of receiving your denial letter.

Below, you will find the different stages to the social security disability benefits process and an average of how long each stage takes:

  • Initial Application– 3-5 months
  • Reconsideration – 3-4 months
  • ALJ Hearing – 1 year (maybe longer)
  • Appeals Counsel – 1 year 3 months
  • Federal Court – 1 year 6 months

You can appeal in one of three ways:

  1. Online at https://secure.ssa.gov/apps6z/iAppeals/ap001.jsp.
  2. Call 1-800-772-1213; or
  3. Go to your local Social Security office.  To find your local Social Security office go to https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp

To learn more about Social Security Disability Benefits, contact Dimitrios Makridis @ (614) 349-4490 or Irene Makridis @ (330) 394-1587.

Social Security Disability Benefits

 

Social Security disability benefits benefits are paid if a worker is so severely disabled (physically or mentally) that the disability is expected to last at least 12 continuous months or result in death.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) manages two disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (“DIB” or “Title II”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI” or “Title XVI”). Although both programs apply the same substantive criteria to determine disability for adults, eligibility requirements for each program differ substantially.

Supplemental Security Income (“SSI” or “Title XVI”)

SSI is a federal program that provides monthly payments to people who have low-income and are:

  • age 65 or older
  • blind; or
  • disabled (per Social Security regulations).

Unlike Social Security Disability Insurance (DIB) benefits, eligibility for SSI is contingent on one’s household income and financial resources falling below certain thresholds.  So a person need not have worked a certain number of years (and paid Social Security taxes) to receive SSI benefits.  But, it is difficult to qualify for SSI because the resource threshold is so low.  For example, a single individual may have no more than $2,000 in disposable assets ($3,000 for a couple), including the value of financial assets, land, life insurance, personal property, and vehicles. (SOCIAL SECURITY ADMIN., PROGRAM OPERATIONS MANUAL SYSTEM (POMS) SI01110.003 (2010).)

Additionally, in order to be eligible for SSI, the individual must apply for other cash benefits for which he or she may be eligible, including DIB benefits.  For those claimants who receive a low DIB benefit, SSI does exactly what its name implies: supplement income. For example, if an approved disability claimant receives DIB benefits in the amount of $350, an SSI award could be used to guarantee that the claimant’s total monthly benefits equal the full SSI amount—$721/month. Thus, the DIB recipient would receive an additional $371 in SSI to bring her total monthly benefits to $721, a sum equal to the full SSI monthly benefit amount.

Social Security Disability Insurance (“DIB” or “Title II”)

Unlike SSI, if an individual is found disabled, the individual will receive DIB benefits regardless of the individual’s assets or financial resources.  But before an individual is found disabled he must (1) earn a certain number of work “credits” and (2) have a medical condition that meets the SSA’s definition of disability.

Determining Work Credit Eligibility

To qualify for DIB, you must have worked a certain number of years in a job or combination of jobs where you paid Social Security taxes. As you work and pay taxes, you earn Social Security “credits.”  Specifically, you need to earn a sufficient number of work credits based on your earnings—so the more you earn (in your lifetime), the more credits you accrue.

In 2014, you must earn $1,200 to get one Social Security work credit, or $4,600 to get the maximum four credits per year.  It does not matter which quarter you collected the earnings.  Therefore, an individual need only earn a minimal amount of money to get credit for a year of paying into Social Security.

The number of credits you need to be eligible for DIB benefits depends on (1) the age you become disabled, (2) the number of credits you earned, and (3) the number of years you worked.  The older you are, the more work credits you need to qualify for benefits.  There are two tests you must pass that involve work credits to be eligible for DIB benefits: the “recent work test” and the “duration of work test.”

Recent Work Test

If you are 31 or older you must have worked at least 5 of the last 10 years to pass the recent work test. In other words, you need to have earned 20 credits in the 10 years immediately before becoming disabled.

If you are between 24 and 31, you need to have worked at least half the time since turning 21. So, if you are 29, you must have worked at least 4 years out of the last 8 years (or have earned 16 credits in the last 8 years).

If you are under 24, you must have worked at least 1 ½ years in the 3 years immediately before becoming disabled (or have earned 6 credits in the last 3 years).

Duration of Work Test

You must have worked the following number of years or earned the following number of credits to qualify for DIB benefits.

Became Disabled at Age Number of Credits Needed Number of Years Worked
21 – 24 6 1.5
24 – 31 6-18 1.5 – 4.5
31 – 42 20 5
44 22 5.5
46 24 6
48 26 6.5
50 28 7
52 30 7.5
54 32 8
56 34 8.5
58 36 9
60 38 9.5
62 or older 40 10

Those who have not earned enough to qualify for DIB benefits may still be eligible for SSI, if you are able to show financial need—e.g. have low income and assets.   It is also possible to file for DIB benefits based on the earnings record of another—e.g. one’s parent (if the disability started prior to age 22) or one’s deceased spouse (in specific circumstances).

Determining Medical Disability

To be eligible for DIB benefits, you must also have a medical condition that meets the SSA’s definition of disability. Disability is defined as “the inability to do any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” (42 U.S.C. § 423(d), 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1505(a), 416.905(a).) To assist in this determination, Social Security regulations set forth a five-step sequential evaluation process. (Id. §§ 404.1520, 416.920.)

Are you working?

The first step is to determine whether an individual has engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date of the disability. Work is substantial if it involves “significant physical or mental activities” and gainful if it is done “for pay or profit.” (Id. § 404.1572.) For the year 2014, substantial gainful activity is defined as monthly earnings of $1,070 or more. An individual who has engaged in substantial gainful activity throughout the entire period in which disability is alleged will not be found disabled and will not proceed to the remaining steps, unless certain exceptions apply.

Is your medical condition “severe”?

The second step asks whether an individual has a severe, medically determinable impairment that is expected to result in death, or has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months. (Id. § 404.1509.) Social Security Ruling (SSR) 85-28 clarifies that an impairment is “severe” if it causes more than slight abnormality or combination of slight abnormalities having more than a minimal effect on an individual’s physical or mental ability to perform basic work activities. This is a threshold question, and again the evaluation ceases if it is not met.

Is your medical condition on the List of Impairments?

Step three is the most technical, and asks whether an individual has an impairment that meets or equals in severity a listed impairment. (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1525, 416.925.) The Listing of Impairments is found at 20 C.F.R. part 404, subpart P, appendix 1, and contains for each body system, impairments established by specific criteria that are considered to prevent an individual from doing any gainful activity, regardless of an individual’s age, education, or work experience. If an individual is not found to meet or equal a listed impairment, his or her residual functional capacity must be assessed. (Id. §§ 404.1545, 416.945.) This is defined as the most an individual can do despite the limitations caused by his or her medically determinable impairments. Limitations may be exertional (the ability to sit, stand, walk, lift, or carry), nonexertional (postural, manipulative, communicative, or visual limitations), or mental (the ability to understand and perform tasks, sustain concentration for extended periods, interact with others, and adapt to changes in a work routine). (SSR 85-15, 1985 WL 56857 (1985).)

Can you do the work you did before?

Step four asks whether an individual can return to past relevant work, defined as work that has been performed long enough to learn the job, at substantial gainful activity level, and within 15 years of the date of adjudication. (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1565, 416.945.)

Can you do any other type of work?

Finally, step five asks whether an individual’s impairments prevent performance of other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy. (Id. §§ 404.1560, 416.960.) This is determined by applying medical-vocational grid rules based on an individual’s exertional capability, age, education, and vocational background. In cases where an individual does not meet a medical-vocational grid rule, vocational expert testimony may be required to compare his or her residual functional capacity against the requirements of jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy.  An individual who cannot perform his or her past relevant work or other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy is found to be disabled, unless certain exceptions apply.

As we are dealing with a hypothetical individual, it is immaterial whether such work exists in the individual’s immediate area, or whether a specific job vacancy exists, or whether the individual would have been hired if he/she applied for work.

Average 2014 monthly Social Security benefits

  • Disabled Worker: $1,148
  • Disabled Worker with a Spouse and Child: $1,943

2014 monthly SSI payment rates (does not include state supplement, if any)

  • $721 for an individual
  • $1,082 for a couple

Some of the views expressed in this article were taken from www.socialsecurity.gov.

10 Common Questions about Applying for Disability Benefits

  1. How can I tell if I am disabled enough to apply for social security disability benefits?
  2. How do I apply for Social Security disability or SSI benefits?
  3. Do you have any advice about applying for disability benefits?
  4. Who decides if you are disabled?
  5. What happens if I am denied benefits and I do not appeal within 60 days?
  6. How do I appeal?
  7. What are the biggest mistakes people make when trying to get disability benefits?
  8. Since medical evidence is so important, should I have my doctor write a letter to the Social Security Administration and should I gather medical records and send them to SSA?
  9. When is the best time for a lawyer to get involved in my case?
  10. How much do you charge?

1.  How can I tell if I am disabled enough to apply for social security disability benefits?

Social Security regulations make it easier to be found disabled as you get older.

  • If you’re over age 55 and you cannot do any job you have done in the past 15 years, you should definitely apply.
  • If you’re over age 50 and have a severe impairment that keeps you from doing all but the easiest jobs, you ought to apply.
  • If you’re under age 45 or 50 and you cannot do your past jobs and you cannot work full time at any regular job, that ought to be enough. You should keep in mind that it is difficult to convince Social Security that you are “disabled” under age 45 or 50, even if you cannot work. However, if you genuinely feel you cannot work ANY regular job, you should apply.

Also, remember to keep appealing all denials received from Social Security after you have applied for benefits.  The biggest mistakes people make when trying to get disability benefits is failing to appeal.  It is important to appeal because most claims are denied at the initial level, but approved at higher levels of review. It is also important to hire an experienced person to represent you, because you do not understand the way Social Security works. Statistically, claimants who employ an attorney to represent them are much more likely to win than those who are not represented.

2.  How do I apply for Social Security disability or SSI benefits?

There are three ways to apply for disability benefits:

  1. Online at http://www.ssa.gov/applyfordisability/;
  2. Call 1-800-772-1213; or
  3. Go to your local Social Security office.  To find your local Social Security office go to https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp

The safest and easiest way to apply for disability benefits is to visit your local Social Security office, because (1) it gives you the opportunity to ask questions; (2) your local office can assist you in deciding whether your application is for DIB or SSI, and (3) you cannot apply for SSI disability benefits online.

3.  Do you have any advice about applying for disability benefits?

  • Be honest and complete in giving information to Social Security about what is disabling you. Many claimants exaggerate or minimize their disability. For example, many claimants fail to mention their psychiatric problems to Social Security because they are embarrassed about them. In almost all cases, individuals who were slow learners in school fail to mention this fact to Social Security, even though it can have a good deal to do with whether or not their Social Security disability claim is approved.  Therefore, DO NOT exaggerate or minimize your disability.
  • Apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled!  It can take a long time to process an initial application for disability benefits (3-5 months).

The Social Security Administration may be able to process your application more quickly if you provide the following information when you apply:

  • Your Social Security number;
  • Your birth certificate;
  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship (or law immigration status);
  • Names, addresses and phone numbers of the doctors, caseworkers, hospitals and clinics that took care of you and dates of your visits;
  • Names and dosage of all the medicine you take;
  • Medical records from your doctors, therapists, hospitals, clinics and caseworkers that you already have in your possession;
  • Laboratory and test results;
  • A summary of where you worked and the kind of work you did for the last 15 years; and
  • A copy of your most recent W-2 Form (Wage and Tax Statement) or, if you are self-employed, your federal tax return for the past year.

In addition to the basic application for disability benefits, there are other forms you will need to fill out.  One form collects information about your medical condition and how it affects your ability to work.  Other forms give doctors, hospitals and other health care professionals who have treated you permission to send the Social Security Administration information about your medical condition.

NOTE: Do not delay applying for benefits if you cannot get all of this information together before applying.  The Administration will help you collect it after applying.

4.  Who decides if you are disabled?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will review your application to make sure you meet some basic requirements for disability benefits.  SSA will also check to see if you worked enough years to qualify and to evaluate any current work activities.  If you meet these requirements, the administration will process your application and forward your case to the Disability Determination Services office in your state. The state agency completes the disability decision for SSA.  Doctors and disability specialists in the state agency ask your doctors for information about your condition. They will consider all the facts in your case. They will also use the medical evidence from your doctors, hospitals, clinics and institutions where you have been treated.

They will ask your doctors:

  • What your medical condition is;
  • When your medical condition began;
  • How your medical condition limits your activities;
  • What the medical tests have shown; and
  • What treatment you have received.

They also will ask the doctors for information about your ability to do work-related activities, such as walking, sitting, lifting, carrying and remembering instructions. Your doctors are not asked to decide if you are disabled. The state agency staff may need more medical information before they can decide if you are disabled. If more information is not available from your current medical sources, the state agency may ask you to go for a special examination. SSA prefers to ask your own doctor, but sometimes the exam may have to be done by someone else.  SSA will pay for the exam and for some of the related travel costs.

5.  What happens if I am denied benefits and I do not appeal within 60 days?

You’ll have to start over with a new application — and it may mean that you’ll lose some back benefits. So it’s important to appeal all denials within 60 days. It’s better if you appeal right away so that you get through the bureaucratic denial system faster. The quicker you can get to the hearing stage the better.

6.  How do I appeal?

Your denial letter will tell you how to appeal.  The first appeal is called a “reconsideration.” You must request reconsideration and then, after the reconsideration is denied, you must request a hearing within the 60-day time limit.

You can appeal in one of three ways:

  1. Online at https://secure.ssa.gov/apps6z/iAppeals/ap001.jsp.  Be sure to print and keep the receipt for your appeal so that you can prove you appealed on time;
  2. Call 1-800-772-1213or
  3. Go to your local Social Security office.  To find your local Social Security office go to https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp.

If you go to the Social Security office, be sure to take along a copy of your denial letter. And be sure that the Social Security representative gives you a signed copy of your appeal paper showing that you appealed on time.

7.  What are the biggest mistakes people make when trying to get disability benefits?

  • Failing to appeal.  The most important thing that you can do is to appeal all denials and hire an experienced person to represent you. It is important to appeal because most claims are denied at the initial level, but are approved at higher levels of review. And it is important to hire an experienced person to represent you because you do not understand the way Social Security works. Statistically, claimants who employ an attorney to represent them are much more likely to win than those who are not represented.
  • Failing to obtain appropriate medical care.  Some people with long-term chronic medical problems feel that they have not been helped much by doctors. Thus, for the most part, they stop going for treatment. This is a mistake for both medical and legal reasons. First, no one needs good medical care more than those with chronic medical problems. Second, medical treatment records provide the most important evidence of disability in a Social Security case.

8.  Since medical evidence is so important, should I have my doctor write a letter to the Social Security Administration and should I gather medical records and send them to SSA?

This is a hard question. Few people win their cases by having their doctors write letters, but you can try this if you want to. The problem is that the medical-legal issues are so complicated in most disability cases that a doctor may inadvertently give the wrong impression. Therefore, obtaining medical reports may be something better left for a lawyer to do.

9.  When is the best time for a lawyer to get involved in my case?

Many people wait until it is time to request a hearing before contacting an attorney to represent them. Although everyone agrees that a lawyer’s help is essential at the hearing, a lawyers help in the early stages is a subject with arguments on both sides.

Approximately 33% of people who apply will be found disabled after filing the initial application, without a lawyer’s help.  Further, about 12% of people who request reconsideration are found disabled, mostly without a lawyer’s help.  If you are successful in handling the case yourself at the initial or reconsideration levels, you will save having to pay attorney’s fees. BUT, if you feel more comfortable with an experienced attorney helping you in the early stages, please call Dimitrios Makridis at (614) 349-4490, or Irene Makridis at (330) 394-1587. 

10.  How much do you charge?

Do not be concerned with our attorney fee because there is no attorney fee unless we win.

After you are approved to receive disability benefits, the government will owe you a lump sum of “back” benefits from the time you became disabled to the date of your award.  Our fee is 25% of these ”back” benefits (but never more than $6,000).  The only rare exception to our fee is if we appeal your administrative law judge decision.  In this circumstance, our fee is still 25% of your back benefits, but we drop the $6,000.00 limit on fees.

Our knowledge and experience can make the difference in winning your disability claim. Call Dimitrios Makridis at (614) 349-4490, or Irene Makridis at (330) 394-1587, for a free consultation today.

We have offices in Columbus, Warren, Youngstown, and Cleveland.

What is Social Security?

When we work, we pay taxes into Social Security.  The taxes we pay into the system are used to pay Social Security benefits to:

  • People who have already retired;
  • People who are disabled;
  • Survivors of workers who have died; and
  • Dependents of beneficiaries.

The money we pay in taxes is not held in a personal account for us to use when we are eligible for benefits in the future. The taxes that we pay into Social Security are being used immediately to pay people who are receiving benefits now.  Furthermore, any unused money goes to the Social Security trust fund, not to a personal account with our name on it.

It is also important to understand that Social Security benefits were never meant to be the only source of income for people when they retire, become disabled, or die.  Specifically, Social Security replaces about 40% of an average wage earner’s income after they retire.  To have a comfortable retirement, Americans need much more than just Social Security, they also need private pensions, savings, and investments.

Social Security and Medicare Taxes

In addition to paying a Social Security tax when we work, we also pay Medicare taxes on all of our wages (or net earnings if self-employed).  These Medicare taxes are used for Medicare coverage.

Generally, if you make less than $117,000 / year, and you work for someone else you pay 6.2% Social Security tax and 1.45% Medicare tax, while your employer also pays 6.2% Social Security tax and 1.45% Medicare tax.

However, if you are self-employed and make less than $117,000 / year, you serve as the employer and employee and pay 12.4% Social Security tax and 2.9% Medicare tax.

Where do our Social Security and Medicare Tax Dollars go?

When we work, 85 cents of every Social Security tax dollar our pay goes to a trust fund that pays monthly benefits to:

  • current retirees (and their families);
  • surviving spouses; and
  • children of workers who have died.

The other 15 cents goes to a trust fund that pays benefits to people with disabilities (and their families).

Less than 1 cent of every Social Security tax dollar you pay is used to manage the Social Security program.

Alternatively, the entire amount of taxes we pay into Medicare goes to a trust fund that pays for some of the costs of hospital and related care of all Medicare beneficiaries.  Medicare is managed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMMS), not Social Security.  But individuals apply for Medicare at Social Security.

Many of the views expressed in this article were taken from www.socialsecurity.gov.

How do I apply for Disability Benefits?

There are three ways to apply for disability benefits:

  1. Online at http://www.ssa.gov/applyfordisability/;
  2. Call 1-800-772-1213; or
  3. Your local Social Security office.  To find your local Social Security office go to https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp

The safest and easiest way to apply for disability benefits is to visit your local Social Security office, because (1) it gives you the opportunity to ask questions; (2) your local office can assist you in deciding whether you should apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (“DIB”) and/or Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”); and (3) you cannot apply for SSI disability benefits online.

To learn more about Social Security Disability Benefits, contact Dimitrios Makridis @ (614) 349-4490 or Irene Makridis @ (330) 394-1587.

 

Social Security Retirement Benefits

Choosing when to retire is one of the most important decisions you will make in your lifetime.  If you choose to retire when you reach your full retirement age, you will receive your full benefit amount.  But if you retire before reaching full retirement age, you will receive reduced benefits.

Year of Birth Full Retirement Age
1943-1954 66
1955 66 and 2 months
1956 66 and 4 months
1957 66 and 6 months
1958 66 and 8 months
1959 66 and 10 months
1960 or later 67

 

Delayed Retirement

If you choose to delay receiving benefits beyond your full retirement age, your benefit will be increased by a certain percentage, depending on the year you were born.  The increase will be added in automatically each month from the time you reach full retirement age until you start taking benefits or reach age 70, whichever comes first.  The percentage of the increase is based on when you were born.

Early Retirement

You may start receiving benefits as early as age 62.  However, if you start your benefits early, your benefits are reduced by about ½ of 1 percent for each month you start your Social Security before your full retirement age.  For example, if you full retirement age is 66 and you sign up for Social Security when you are 62, you would only get 75 percent of your full benefit.

If you work and get benefits

You can continue to work and still receive retirement benefits. Your earnings in (or after) the month you reach full retirement age will not reduce your Social Security benefits. In fact, working beyond full retirement age can increase your benefits. However, your benefits will be reduced if your earnings exceed certain limits for the months before you reach your full retirement age.

If you work but start receiving benefits before full retirement age, $1 in benefits will be deducted for each $2 in earnings you have above the annual limit. In 2014, the limit is $15,480.

In the year you reach your full retirement age, your benefits will be reduced $1 for every $3 you earn over a different annual limit ($41,400 in 2014) until the month you reach full retirement age.  Once you reach full retirement age, you can keep working, and your Social Security benefit will not be reduced, no matter how much you earn.

NOTE: People who work and receive disability or Supplemental Security Income payments have different earnings rules. They must immediately report all of their earnings to Social Security no matter how much they earn.

Retirement benefits for widows and widowers

If you are receiving widow’s or widower’s benefits, you can switch to your own retirement benefits as early as age 62, assuming your retirement benefit is more than the amount you receive on your deceased spouse’s earnings. In many cases, you can begin receiving one benefit at a reduced rate and then switch to the other benefit at the full rate when you reach full retirement age. The rules are complicated and vary depending on your situation, so talk to a Social Security representative about the options available to you.

Average 2014 monthly Social Security benefits

  • Retired Worker: $1,294
  • Retired Couple: $2,111
  • Disabled Worker: $1,148
  • Disabled Worker with a Spouse and Child: $1,943
  • Widow or widower: $1,243
  • Young Widow or Widower with Two Children: $2,622

Many of the views expressed in this article were taken from www.socialsecurity.gov.

Medicare

Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people age 65 or older.  People younger than age 65 can qualify for Medicare if they have disabilities, permanent kidney failure or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Medicare should not be confused with Medicaid:

Medicare federal health insurance program for people that are

  • age 65 or older or
  • disabled
Medicaid state health care program for people with

  • low income and
  • limited resources

Medicare helps with the cost of health care, but it does not cover all medical expenses or the cost of most long-term care. One may buy a Medicare supplement policy (called Medigap) from a private insurance company to cover some of the costs that Medicare does not.Some people qualify for one or the other, while other people qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid.

Medicare is financed by a portion of the Medicare payroll taxes paid by workers and their employers.  Generally, if you make less than $117,000 / year, and you work for someone else you pay 1.45% Medicare tax, while your employer also pays 1.45% Medicare tax.  However, if you are self-employed and make less than $117,000 / year, you pay 2.9% Medicare tax.

Medicare also is financed in part by monthly premiums deducted from Social Security checks.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMMS) is the agency in charge of the Medicare program.  But individuals apply for Medicare at Social Security.

Medicare has four parts:

  1. Hospital insurance (Part A), which helps pay for inpatient hospital care and certain follow-up services.
  2. Medical insurance (Part B), which helps pay for doctors’ services, outpatient hospital care and other medical services;
  3. Medicare Advantage plans (Part C), where people with Medicare Parts A and B can choose to receive all of their health care services through a provider organization under Part C.
  4. Prescription drug coverage (Part D), which helps pay for medications doctors prescribe for medical treatment.

Who is eligible for hospital insurance (Part A)?

Most people get hospital insurance (Part A) when they turn 65. You are eligible at age 65 if:

  • You receive or are eligible to receive Social Security benefits; or
  • You receive or are eligible to receive railroad retirement benefits; or
  • Your spouse receives or is eligible to receive Social Security or railroad retirement benefits; or
  • You or your spouse (living or deceased, including divorced spouses) worked long enough in a government job where Medicare taxes were paid; or
  • You are the dependent parent of a fully insured deceased child.

If you do not meet these requirements, you may be able to get Medicare hospital insurance by paying a monthly premium. Usually, you can sign up for this hospital insurance only during designated enrollment periods.

NOTE: Even though the full retirement age is no longer 65, you should sign up for Medicare three months before your 65th birthday.

Before age 65, you are eligible for free Medicare hospital insurance if:

  • You have been entitled to Social Security disability benefits for 24 months; or
  • You receive a disability pension from the railroad retirement board and meet certain conditions; or
  • You receive Social Security disability benefits because you have Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis); or
  • You worked long enough in a government job where Medicare taxes were paid and you have been entitled to Social Security disability benefits for 24 months; or
  • You are the child or widow(er) age 50 or older, including a divorced widow(er), of someone who has worked long enough in a government job where Medicare taxes were paid and you meet the requirements of the Social Security disability program; or
  • You have permanent kidney failure and you receive maintenance dialysis or a kidney transplant and:
  • You are eligible for or receive monthly benefits under Social Security or the railroad retirement system; or
  • You have worked long enough in a Medicare-covered government job; or
  • You are the child or spouse (including a divorced spouse) of a worker (living or deceased) who has worked long enough under Social Security or in a Medicare-covered government job.

Who can get medical insurance (Part B)?

Almost anyone who is eligible for hospital insurance (Part A) can sign up for medical insurance (Part B). Part B is an optional program. It is not free. In 2014, the standard monthly premium is $104.90. Some people with higher incomes pay higher premiums.

If you are not eligible for free hospital insurance (Part A), you can buy medical insurance, without having to buy hospital insurance, if you are age 65 or older and you are:

  • A U.S. citizen; or
  • A lawfully admitted noncitizen who has lived in the U.S. for at least five years.

Who can get Medicare Advantage plans (Part C)?

Anyone who has Medicare hospital insurance (Part A) and medical insurance (Part B) can join a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage plans include:

  • Medicare managed care plans.
  • Medicare preferred provider organization (PPO) plans;
  • Medicare private fee-for-service plans; and
  • Medicare specialty plans.

In addition to your Part B premium, you might have to pay another monthly premium because of the extra benefits the Medicare Advantage plan offers.

Who can get Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D)?

Anyone who has Medicare hospital insurance (Part A) or medical insurance (Part B) or a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) is eligible for prescription drug coverage (Part D). Prescription insurance is optional, and you pay an additional monthly premium for the coverage. Some people with higher incomes pay higher premiums.

People who become newly entitled to Medicare should enroll during their initial enrollment period (as explained under Signing up for Medicare on page 10). After the initial enrollment period, the annual coordinated election period to enroll or make provider changes is October 15 – 9 December 7 each year. The effective date for the enrollment is January 1 of the upcoming year. There also are special enrollment periods for some situations.

Many of the views expressed in this article were taken from www.socialsecurity.gov.

Common Claimant Misconceptions about Social Security Disability Benefits

There are many misconceptions when filing for Social Security. This article will list some of the more common misconceptions of claimants as they relate to the disability process.

  1. GENERAL MISCONCEPTIONS
  2. MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT MEDICAL OPINIONS AND RECORDS
  3. MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT HIRING AN ATTORNEY
  4. MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT HOW LONG THE PROCESS TAKES
  5. MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT HOW TO ACT AT THE HEARING
  6. MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE STANDARD FOR DISABILITY
  7. MISCONCEPTIONS AFTER THE HEARING
  8. MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT DATES
  9. OTHER MISCONCEPTIONS
  10. THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR
  11. THINGS NOT TO DO WITH CLAIMANTS

GENERAL MISCONCEPTIONS

1. “My case is an above average case.”

This misconception is usually based on a claimant comparing their case to a friend, relative, or other. However, one case is completely irrelevant and immaterial to another. Claimants must also understand that there is no way to predict how an Administrative Law Judge will decide their case.

2. “Every claimant who goes to a hearing wins!”

However, national statistics show the following:

  • Only 33% of initial applications were granted for Fiscal Year 2012. Social Security Administration, Office of Disability Program Management Information, “Fiscal Year 2012 Workload Data: Disability Decisions” Data Prepared November 26, 2012;
  • Only 12% of reconsideration appeals were granted disability benefits for fiscal year 2012. Id; and
  • Only 47% of disability claimants that appeared before an administrative law judge were granted disability for fiscal year 2013. According to the Deputy Commissioner of Social Security Glenn Sklar, the 2013 allowance rate was a 40-year low.

3. “If l lose my claim, it is somebody’s fault!”

Not true. Some claimants simply do not have a good factual case. For example, their impairments are not very restrictive and do not prevent sedentary (sit-down) or light work. Others do not have a supporting treating doctor or psychologist and thus do not have a good residual functional capacity evaluation in the file.

Thus, before representing a claimant the representative must determine during an initial interview with a claimant “How good are the facts of the case?” After this is determined, a representative can start developing a theory of the case. But, if the claimant, for example, is not seeing a doctor, then the “facts of the case” are not very good. The same may be true if the claimant is not taking medications for the impairments or does not need medical treatment for his impairments.

4. “If I qualify for disability from another agency or program I will be eligible for benefits from the Social Security Administration.”

The Social Security Administration’s rules are different from private plans or other government agencies. The fact that you may quality for disability from another agency or program does not mean that you will be eligible for disability benefits.

MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT MEDICAL OPINIONS AND RECORDS

5. “If I have a statement from a doctor indicating I am disabled, I will be eligible for benefits.”

Having a statement from a doctor does NOT mean you will automatically be eligible for disability benefits. There are many other factors that are considering when determining whether someone is eligible for disability benefits.

6. “Once I receive a diagnosis from the doctor that is all I need to win.” 

However, a diagnosis does not matter.  What matters is the severity of the impairment and how the impairment(s) affects the ability to work 40 hours a week, under Social Security Ruling 96-8p (1996).

7. “The more medical records I submit, the better my chances of winning!”

It does not matter how many pages are submitted, especially if they cannot be understood by the person reading them. However, some representatives must believe this, as they routinely submit duplicate and triplicate medical records.

8. “I submitted all of my medical records to Social Security!”

Some claimants think this is all that is needed to win. But, more important than submitting their medical records, is what their medical records show.

If a claimant went to an emergency room every week for one year, the medical records would indeed be large. However, if every exam done at that emergency room was normal, there are no “objective medical findings” for a judge to find a claimant disabled. Therefore, the claimant needs to specifically point out what in the medical records supports a finding that they are disabled.

9. “The Administration errs if they did not obtain medical records which are several years old, even though the onset date of disability is recent.”

The Disability Reform Act of 1984 requires the Administration to obtain medical records for the 12 months before the date of application. See 20 CFR 404.1512 (d). The claimant can, of course, submit older medical records if relevant and material, but the Administration may not be required to obtain these records on their own.

10. “The Administration should know about a recent hospitalization or MRI study even though I didn’t tell the Administration about this.”

In some cases, the Administration will not obtain medical records because the claimant has not told the Administration about a specific doctor or hospitalization. It is not the Administration’s fault if the claimant does not advise them of a specific doctor or hospitalization!

For example, a claimant has been waiting four-five months for a reconsideration decision and has been in the hospital three times since filing the reconsideration appeal. If the claimant or the representative did not tell the Administration about these hospitalizations, the Administration cannot request these medical records since they do not know about the hospitalizations. Hospitals do not have a “super computer” linked to the Social Security Administration which automatically sends medical records to the Administration. The same is true with regard to medical records when the case is pending before an Administrative Law Judge.

MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT HIRING AN ATTORNEY

11. “Once I hire a representative, my case will be moved up at reconsideration or for a hearing.”

NOT TRUE. In fact, this belief (in many instances) is the reason claimants want to hire a representative. Below, you will find the different stages to the appeals process and an average of how long each stage takes:

  • Initial Determination – 3-5 months
  • Reconsideration – 3-4 months
  • ALJ Hearing – 1 year (maybe longer)
  • Appeals Counsel – 1 year 3 months
  • Federal Court – 1 year 6 months

12. “The long waiting periods, rules, and procedures will not apply to me when I hire a representative.”

Among this misperception are the following misconceptions:

The claimant thinks:

  • he/she will not have to wait 12 months to have a hearing.
  • the 5-month waiting period for Social Security Disability Insurance (DIB) benefits does not apply to him/her; or
  • the 30-month waiting period for Medicare coverage does not apply to him/her; or
  • the workers’ compensation offset does not apply to him/her; or
  • the income and asset limitations does not apply to their SSI benefits.

13. “Now that I have hired a representative, my doctor will fill out a residual functional capacity evaluation or write a letter for me.”

Maybe the doctor does not think the claimant is disabled. Maybe the doctor does not understand the Social Security disability program and thinks that the claimant must be bedridden to be found disabled.

It is important that a representative not press the doctor to find the claimant disabled unless (1) the doctor truly believes the claimant is disabled, and (2) understands what it means to be disabled, per the Social Security regulations.

MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT HOW LONG THE PROCESS TAKES

14. “If my workers’ compensation benefits stop or my personal injury settlement runs out, my case will be moved up.”

Not true. However, the claimant’s case may be moved up if the claimant:

  • needs medications;
  • is homeless;
  • has a terminal illness; or
  • is suicidal or homicidal. HALLEX 1-2-I -95.

15. “My hearing date will be set soon after I send my request for hearing.”

It takes over one year to have an ALJ hearing after sending the request for a hearing.

MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT HOW TO ACT AT THE HEARING

16. Some claimants with mental impairments think they are disabled due to their physical impairments alone.

Claimants with mental impairments are more likely to want to discuss their physical impairments at the hearing rather than their mental impairments. They might also downplay their mental impairments. However, it is crucial that they do not do this.

It is understandably difficult for some claimants to describe their depression, their anxiety, their bipolar disorder, their schizophrenia, their personality disorder, or their low I.Q. Therefore, it is important to direct the claimant to discuss his/her mental impairments during the hearing to help find them disabled.

17. “If I show that I’m bedridden at home at the hearing, I will be found disabled.”

Not true. It is best to go over the daily activities at the hearing and explain

  • how long the claimant can do these things,
  • what breaks they take,
  • if they are in pain when doing these things, and
  • what help they need doing these things.

Residual functional capacity, under Ruling 96-8p (1996), is based on the ability to work 40 hours a week, productively, at a competitive job, and not on the ability to do sporadic activities at home.

18. “I must look disabled at my hearing.”

Social Security Ruling 96-7p (1996) does mention observations by the ALJ at the hearing, but this is only one of many factors for the ALJ to consider. Used alone to discredit credibility is probably an error of law on the part of the ALJ.

Therefore, the problem with trying to “look disabled” is the uncertainty of what “looking disabled” really means, because some claimants are stoic, and others “put on a show” for the ALJ. It is best for the claimant to act and look as he always does.

19. “If I talk like a doctor at the ALJ hearing, I will win.”

Claimants think they must use medical terms at the hearing when this is not necessary and, in fact, hurts their claim because (in many instances) claimants use incorrect medical terms or do not accurately describe their medical problems.

Some claimants will erroneously state things like “I have rheumatoid arthritis” when they have degenerative arthritis. They may claim “I have three herniated discs in my back” when they do not. They may claim “I have bone on bone in my knee on x-ray” when they do not. This does irreparable damage to a claimant’s credibility.

20. “The more I talk/ramble at the hearing, the better my chances of winning.”

Ramblers lose. Be on point to the ALJ. Some claimants think they must have a script to follow at the hearing, going into great detail to describe their impairments, their pain, and their work-related limitations. This will likely cause the ALJ (and the representative) to lose track of what is important at the hearing.

Some claimants also think they must prove everything at the hearing or explain why they think denying their claim will be a “grave injustice.” But, some of their reasoning on this will not even be related to their Social Security or SSI disability claim. For example, they will focus on the fact that their workers’ compensation benefits have stopped, or the fact that they lost their personal injury case, or that they really want Medicare or Medicaid coverage and can only obtain this if the Administration finds them disabled. But, these factors have no relationship to the medical strength of their case. There are plenty of healthy people who are homeless and not disabled.

21. “If I act helpless. I will win.”

Being helpless is not a virtue. While there may, in fact, be a few helpless claimants due to their impairments, most are not helpless. The ones who act helpless are more work for representatives and are more likely to be critical of us if they do not win their case. They may also not be helpful to us in representing them.

Some of the characteristics of the helpless claimant are:

  • “Social Security won’t let me look at my file.” Why not? The file is yours to look at unless looking at the file would be dangerous to the claimant. Looking at the file is not a mystery.
  • “I can’t get my medical records.” If the records are from years ago, the doctors may be retired. Are these medical records even relevant if before the alleged onset date of disability? What medical condition do they relate to? Is that condition disabling? Many States have laws about the costs of medical records for a Social Security and SSI claim, and in many States the records are free or available at a small cost. It will likely be an unusual situation where a treating source (doctor or mental health facility) does not release medical records to a claimant or a representative.
  • “I applied before and was denied.” When? Where? What were the disabling impairments then, and how disabling were they? If the medical impairments at this time are the same as they were on the prior claim, the Social Security Administration may argue res judicata and collateral estoppel to deny the present claim. However, if there is a worsening on the present application, then these legal principles do not apply to the present claim.

MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE STANDARD FOR DISABILITY

22. “If I don’t take my medications or do something, my pain and symptoms are really bad.”

First of all, this is not the standard for disability. Second, if a condition can be remedied, it is not disabling. Thus, the claimant must describe the medical condition while on medications. In connection with this, a representative should review the medical records to see what the claimant has told the treating doctor(s) about his/her symptoms to make sure his/her testimony at the ALJ hearing is consistent.

23. “The side-effects of my medications are really bad.”

Here, we are not referring to the possible side-effects listed on a medicine bottle. Rather, we are referring to the side-effects specific to the individual claimant. The best way to show this is to look at the side-effects mentioned in the treating doctor’s notes.

Also, find out what the treating doctor did about the side-effects (changed medications, stopped all medications, lowered the dosage, added on more medications). ALJ’s are trained to look at these factors. Furthermore, some claimants do not understand the term “side-effects,” so it may be necessary to ask them specific questions rather than to asking them to generally describe what their side-effects are.

24. “I only need to prove disability. The Administration needs to determine that I can’t work.”

On the contrary, the burden of proof is on the claimant to prove that he/she is disabled and that he/she cannot work. Some Claimants also only think “past relevant work” is their last job rather than work done (at the substantial gainful activity level) in the last 15 years prior to the hearing.

MISCONCEPTIONS AFTER THE HEARING

25. “Appeal before receiving the written decision.”

This happens after leaving the hearing when the claimant thinks the ALJ will deny the claim and the claimant wants to immediately appeal before receiving the written decision. However, on appeal we must appeal the specific reasons the ALJ gives in his/her written decision and we cannot do this until we receive the written decision.

26. “On appeal, the Appeals Council or federal court will either (1) reverse and grant benefits, or (2) deny the appeal.”

Although these are two possible outcomes on appeal, many claimants have never heard of a remand of their claim. Thus, they are disappointed if the Appeals Council or federal court remands their claim, even though this happens far more than an outright reversal for an award of benefits.

27. “If found disabled, the check for the past-due benefits is sent to the representative.”

This may happen with some workers’ compensation benefits or personal injury matters, but it does not happen in DIB and SSI disability claims. Let the claimant know this upon receiving a favorable decision. This will cut down on the number of phone calls you receive.

28. “Social Security pays my representative first.”

Wrong. The representative may be paid at the same time the claimant is paid. But, sometimes the first check to the claimant is three times the maximum SSI benefits ($2163.00 in 2014). Advise the claimant of this, and remind them of your fee agreement [i.e. that you are entitled to the lessor of (a) 25% of the past due benefits, or (b) $6,000 (Six Thousand Dollars)]

29. Social Security and SSI Notices of Award.

DIB and SSI Notices are separate and only relate to one type of benefit (DIB or SSI). These benefits are not integrated on these Notices. Thus, the Notices are confusing to the claimant.

Remember, there is a five month waiting period for DIB benefits (i.e. five months after the onset date found). But, SSI benefits start the month after the month of application. Also, DIB benefits are payable retroactively 12 months prior to the date of application. Thus, if the claimant filed a DIB application two years after onset date, the past-due DIB benefits are payable only 12 months before the date of the application.

Information about Medicare coverage should be in the DIB Notice of Award (date it starts and monthly premiums). In addition, the date of future medical review of the claim should also be in the DIB Notice of Award. The amount of DIB benefits is based on the number of years worked under Social Security and the earnings in those years.

MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT DATES

30. “Dates are not important.”

Many claimants cannot remember dates for doctor visits, date last worked, or other important dates in their claim. The exact date may not be important, but the month/year may be. I have found it helpful to ask leading questions to the claimant on this when interviewing the claimant to find this out.

In connection with this, claimants have different calendars than the rest of the world. For example, they will state that they have been waiting for two years for a hearing when their request for a hearing was filed six months ago. It is important to find out the specific dates on this and on other matters.

31. “Every month has 30 days in calculating appeal periods.”

Wrong. If you are near the 65 day appeal period for reconsideration, request for hearing, appeal to the Appeals Council or to the federal court, calculating the exact number of days is critical. The claimant will calculate a month as having 30 days in it, regardless of the actual number of days in the month—but this is incorrect.

Also remember that the 60 day appeal period is actually 65 days because the Regulations add five days to the 60 day appeal period due to mailing a decision to the claimant.

32. Claimants can have problems with date last insured issues.

This can be critical in a Social Security Disability Insurance (DIB) claim. If the date last insured is a year ago (or more recent), it may not be significant. However, if the date last insured is a number of years ago (3-5, for example), then this is critical.

Some claimants may not be able to remember their condition many years ago. In that case, it is important to try to help them. Ask them about an important event in their life on the date last insured. For example, if the date last insured is December 31, 2007, ask them if anybody in their family was married in that year, graduated from high school or college in that year, or had a child. If they recall this event, ask them about their medical condition at that time.

Obviously, medical records from the date last insured are the most important factor, but a claimant’s recollection of this time period may also help you discover some other medical records which they had forgotten.

OTHER MISCONCEPTIONS

1. “If I was found disabled and went back to work, I will be found disabled as soon as I stop working and apply again.”

Not if the claimant had improved medically to go back to work. Some claimants think it is automatic for them to reapply and be found disabled.

2. “If I am found disabled now, the Social Security Administration must reopen all of my prior applications, especially if I hire a representative now.”

Most claimants do not know the rules of reopening (two years in SSI claims and four years in DIB claims, based on new and material evidence). Many claimants think the reopening is automatic when it is not.

They also do not know that, if they appeal the issue of reopening to the ALJ or the Appeals Council, the Appeals Council can look at the entire ALJ decision and find they are not disabled at all! The same is true on appealing the issue of an earlier onset date of disability—the Appeals Council can look at the entire case and take away the benefits already awarded by the ALJ.

THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR

1. “I don’t know”

“I don’t know” loses cases! Many claimants answer “I don’t know” when date last insured is an issue, or when asked about their present treating doctors or recent medical treatment. But, the Social Security disability system is a civil system. Thus, the burden is on the claimant to show that he/she is disabled. If the claimant does not remember something, this does not help his/her claim and may lose their case. Even if the claimant truly does not remember something due to mental problems (i.e. Parkinson’s disease, dementia, stroke, mental problems), this will not help the claimant.

Some claimants also like to say “I don’t know” when faced with a tough question or a tough situation. For example, if the claimant is not seeing a doctor regularly for treatment, the claimant may answer “I don’t know” when you ask them, versus saying that he/she does not have a regular doctor. Watch for this and press the claimant for a specific answer when you ask the question at the interview, because generalities lose.

Bottom line—specifics win! It is up to the claimant (and to us) to prove disability, and not the other way around. “I don’t know” is not convincing at a hearing.

2. What is the claimant’s ultimate goal?

Ask the claimant at the first interview about the ultimate goal. You might be surprised at the answer.

Is it simply to be found disabled, or is it a Medicare or Medicaid card? Remember that Medicare coverage does not start until 30 months after the onset date of disability except for end stage kidney disease or ALS.

If the claimant is found disabled, will that claimant also be eligible for long-term or short-term disability insurance benefits or a union pension?

THINGS NOT TO DO WITH CLAIMANTS

1. Never state to a claimant that something is unfair.

Claimants think that, if something is unfair, we can correct this as a lawyer. Life is not fair. If a claimant says that something is unfair (i.e. a date last insured issue), this does not mean that we can change it or appeal it.

2. Never state that something will be done in a certain period of time.

Some claimants think we have control over this when we simply do not. It is important to make sure claimants understand that there are some things we cannot control in this process.

3. Never give a guarantee to a claimant

It seems that claimants want us to “give them odds” on their claims or tell them “their chances” on a claim. A nice way to deflect this is to tell your clients that you did not learn to play the odds in law school. If you did, you would be buying lottery tickets and betting on horses instead of practicing law. Another suggestion is telling clients that “guarantees” are not for the legal profession. Social Security deals with humans, and (much a like a jury trial) it is impossible to predict how a judge will decide a case.

4. Communicate with the claimant as clearly as possible

For example, if I write a letter to the local Social Security District Office or to the Appeals Council, this does not do much good unless somebody there reads the letter and acts on it. Claimants do not understand this and think that we receive immediate attention on writing a letter to SSA, to an ALJ, or to the Appeals Council. In this situation, claimants must understand that these people are busy and may not be able to respond to our letter right away.

5. Do not try to read a claimant’s mind

It is impossible to know what a claimant is thinking. Therefore, it is impossible to know about their recent medical treatment (or medical problems and new impairments) unless they tell you about them. On the initial interview, you should advise the claimant to contact you on important matters, including if they go to the hospital or emergency room or see a different doctor.

6 Rules to follow if you get stopped and have been drinking

  1. DO NOT make any sudden moves when pulling over that might be interpreted as impaired driving.  

Use your turn signal, pull over immediately, and come to a complete stop.  It is extremely important to remember that everything about the stop (including your driving just before the stop) is being video and audio recorded. 

  1. Be polite at all times. 

It cannot be stressed enough how important this is.  The conversation between you and the officer is being recorded.  Do not give anyone that might listen or watch the recording at a later time any reason to believe you were being a jerk, unreasonable, or drunk.  Therefore, always address the officer as sir or ma’am and DO NOT, at any point, become combative with the officer. 

  1. DO NOT tell the officer you have been drinking.  

Again, the conversation is being recorded, so any admission that you were drinking can AND WILL be used against you in court. 

  1. DO NOT submit to any field sobriety tests.  

Although officers have a right to ask you to step out of your vehicle, they cannot force you to perform field sobriety tests.  These tests are completely voluntary.  Therefore, when an officer asks you to step out of your vehicle you should comply (but NOT lean on your door when exiting your vehicle), and respectfully decline to perform any field sobriety tests when asked (without being rude).

NOTE: you should only refuse to perform field sobriety tests if you believe you are impaired.  

  1. DO NOT submit to taking a breath, blood, or urine test. 

Politely decline when the officer asks you to take a breath, blood, or urine test, if you have been drinking.  Police officers try and persuade you to “cooperate” by taking the test.  But, it is important to remember that YOU ARE NOT COOPERATING BY TAKING THE TEST.  The officer is simply trying to build a case against you.  By taking the test, you are essentially providing the officer probable cause to arrest you and the prosecutor strong evidence to convict you (if the results indicate you were driving over the legal limit).

You will be subjected to a one-year administrative license suspension (ALS) for refusing to take the test.  However, you will be subjected to at least a 6-month suspension, regardless, if you are convicted of OVI.  Further, the one-year ALS can usually be challenged after the fact and in many instances be reduced.

It should be noted, if you do submit to taking a breath, blood, or urine test and the results prove unfavorable, it does not mean you are guilty of OVI.  There are still a myriad of defenses which can be raised. 

  1. DO NOT make ANY statements after being arrested, ESPECIALLY when placed in the police cruiser.

Many police cruisers have microphones in the front and back seat of the vehicle, so do not think you are not being recorded just because you are placed in the back of a cruiser.  Again, everything you say is being recorded AND WILL BE USED to convict you in court.

It should also be noted that you have the right to call your attorney at any point in the above interaction.

If you have any other questions related to DUI / OVI, please do not hesitate to call Dimitrios Makridis at (614) 349-4490 or Irene Makridis at (330) 394-1587.

 

This article is for general informational purposes only and is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Makridis Law Firm, LLC only provides legal advice after it has entered into a written attorney-client relationship, which this article does not create. Only after having entered into a written, signed agreement with Makridis Law Firm, LLC will an attorney-client relationship have been created.  

How to find your Criminal Record?

Most criminal records can be found on the clerk of court website for the court where the criminal case was handled. We have attached various county public record search sites for the Columbus, Youngstown, and Cleveland areas below:

FRANKLIN COUNTY COURTS

Franklin County Municipal Court - http://www.fcmcclerk.com/case/
Franklin County Common Pleas Court -http://fcdcfcjs.co.franklin.oh.us/CaseInformationOnline/

DELAWARE COUNTY COURTS

Delaware County Municipal Court - http://web1.civicacmi.com/DelawareMC/Court/
Delaware County Common Pleas - http://www.delawarecountyclerk.org/

LICKING COUNTY COURTS

Licking County Common Pleas - http://www.lcounty.com/eservices/home.page.2

TRUMBULL COUNTY COURTS

Warren Municipal Court - http://records.warrenmuni.us/warren/search.do
Niles Municipal Court - http://www.nilesmunicipalcourt.com/recordSearch.php
Newton Falls Municipal Court - http://www.newtonfallscourt.com/Search/
Girard Municipal Court - http://www.girardmunicipalcourt.com/
Trumbull County Central District Court - http://cdsearch.co.trumbull.oh.us/
Trumbull County Common Pleas - http://courts.co.trumbull.oh.us/eservices/home.page.2

MAHONING COUNTY COURTS

Campbell Municipal Court - http://records.campbellohiomunicipalcourt.com/
Mahoning County Common Pleas - http://courts.mahoningcountyoh.gov/

CUYAHOGA COUNTY COURTS

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court - http://cpdocket.cp.cuyahogacounty.us/TOS.aspx
Bedford Municipal Court - http://www.bedfordmuni.org/info.asp?pageId=5
Berea Municipal Court - http://www.bereamunicipalcourt.org/
Cleveland Heights Municipal Court - http://www.clevelandheightscourt.com/caseinformation.html
East Cleveland Municipal Court - http://caseinfo.eccourt.com/search/searchcivildocket.asp
Euclid Municipal Court - http://www.cityofeuclid.com/community/court/HearingDocketsandCaseInformation
Garfield Heights Municipal Court - https://docket.ghmc.org/
Lakewood Municipal Court - http://www.lakewoodcourtoh.com/casesearch.html
Lyndhurst Municipal Court - http://www.lyndhurstmunicipalcourt.org/info.asp?pageId=5
Parma Municipal Court - http://www.parmamunicourt.org/info.asp?pageId=5
Shaker Heights Municipal Court - http://www.shakerheightscourt.org/home/

ASHTABULA COUNTY COURTS

Ashtabula Municipal Court - http://www.ashtabulamunicourt.com/searchdocket.asp?pageId=32
Ashtabula Common Pleas Court - http://courts.co.ashtabula.oh.us/eservices/home.page.2″>http://courts.co.ashtabula.oh.us/eservices/home.page.2

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