Maine Social Security Disability Lawyer
The Social Security disability claims process, in Maine, begins with an initial application, which one can start by simply going onto the Social Security Administration's website (at www.ssa.gov) or by calling the Social Security Administration's toll free number (at 1-800-772-1213). One can also begin the process by contacting their local Social Security office in Maine or by using the Social Security field office locator. However, because the Social Security Administration is not allowed to provide you with legal advice, it may be advisable for you to consult with a social security lawyer that specializes in Maine Social Security Disability Claims first before starting your application so as to put your best foot forward on your initial application and avoid what may be a multiple appeal process. Should one face an initial denial, it is not unusual to go through what can be a 2 year appeal process (or longer).
In Maine, if one is denied on their initial application (which process can take anywhere from what is ordinarily 2 to 6 months), one has a right to request reconsideration (which must be undertaken within 60 days from the date you receive your denial letter, which is assumed to be within 5 days from the date on the letter). At the reconsideration stage, your file will be referred to Disability Determination Services (DDS) in Augusta, Maine (the state agency responsible for evaluating disability cases both when one files their initial claim, as well as when one reaches the reconsideration stage). DDS in Maine will obtain updated treatment records, may request that you complete additional forms concerning how your disabling condition affects you and may even send you to one of their doctors who will undertake an evaluation so as to further determine the severity of your condition. The Reconsideration process can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months and has a very high denial rate. Unfortunately, if one is denied initially, there is no way to get around the need to request reconsideration and go through this appeals process first.
Assuming one receives a second denial, it will be necessary to undertake a request for hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (again, within 60 days from the date you receive your second denial). In Maine, the present wait for a hearing is approximately 12 months from the time the Social Security Administration receives your request for hearing. Your file will be transferred to the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review in Portland, Maine where there are presently six (6) judges assigned to the office: Guy Fletcher (Chief Judge), John Melanson, Katherine Morgan, John Edwards, Joseph Shortill, Vickie Evans and Edward Gaulin. Depending on where you reside, you may likewise see your case heard at the Lawrence, Massachusetts ODAR. The Lawrence ODAR office presently has five (5) judges assigned to hold hearings: Jonathan Baird, Timothy Belford, Eric Eklund, Tanya Garrian and Paul Kelly. Should your case need to proceed to the hearing level, it still may not be necessary to go to a hearing. Depending on the particular case, it may be possible for your attorney to present a brief (that is, a written argument letter) in advance of hearing requesting that the hearing office in Maine provide a favorable decision. Assuming your case does need to proceed to a hearing before one of the Administrative Law Judges in Maine, the hearing office may attempt to schedule your case by VTC (video teleconference) if you do not reside within a reasonable distance of the Portland, Maine hearing office and live closer to one of Social Security's satellite office locations in Augusta, Bangor or Presque Isle). You do have a right to an in person hearing and may simply object to proceeding by way of VTC (which is how I ordinarily proceed): I find that an in person hearing is much more personal and comfortable than appearing before a judge by way of a camera and television screen.
Should one show up at a hearing without representation, one will discover that the Administrative Law Judge in Maine will be sure to advise you of your right to representation (and will attempt to provide you with every opportunity to obtain such representation prior to proceeding to hearing alone). Given a zealous and diligent attorney will ensure that the medical record is complete (and that any useful medical documentation, including assessments of one's ability to function is obtained), obtaining legal counsel in this process as early as possible is always in one's best interest.
CONTACT THE LAW OFFICES OF RUSSELL J. GOLDSMITH NOW TO SEE HOW WE CAN ASSIST YOU WITH YOUR INITIAL CLAIM OR APPEALS PROCESS. WE HAVE BEEN HANDLING MAINE SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY CLAIMS FOR 25 YEARS.