We successfully represent applicants for ERISA, Social Security Disability, and SSI benefits every day.
Here’s what we do to help.
We have years of experience dealing with treating physicians to be certain that the medical records submitted to SSA or your private insurer are complete. Where possible, we work with you to have your doctor complete a statement that tells SSA or the private insurer about the nature of your disability and how it affects your functional capacity.
We work with you do develop evidence of your impairment from other sources, such as family members, friends, and former co-workers. We prepare all paperwork necessary to file your application or appeal.
In claims with SSA, if a hearing is required, we prepare you for the hearing so that you will have a good idea of the physical set up of the hearing room, of who will be at the hearing in addition to you and me, and what kinds of questions will be asked. In most cases, we will prepare a written statement about your case to send to the administrative law judge before the hearing so that he or she will understand what your background and circumstances are; what is your disabling impairment; how the disability affects your capacity to work on a full time, regular and sustained basis; and what medical evidence supports our case. It is our intention that by the time you have your hearing you will understand what will be happening as it takes place, and when the hearing is over you will feel that you have had the opportunity to explain fully how your life has been affected by your impairments.
If we lose at the hearing level, or if your ERISA claim is denied, you and your attorney will talk about whether further appeal might change the result. If we agree that SSA’s administrative law judge has made legal or factual errors in the decision that might have changed the outcome if s/he had gotten it right, we will file an appeal to the SSA Appeals Council. If we feel that a lawsuit is necessary to enforce your rights in your ERISA claim, we will make arrangements for the lawsuit to proceed. We have been fortunate to have to file such appeals only in a small minority of claims, but it does happen.
Below you’ll find answers to commonly-asked questions. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, please reach out to us. We’re always happy to help!
No. We currently represent clients from all over California and have represented many clients who live outside of California. We are able to represent people in front of the Social Security Administration throughout the United States. However, the majority of our clients come from Northern California: places like Monterey, San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, Walnut Creek, Vallejo, San Rafael, Santa Rosa, Stockton, Sacramento, Redding, Ukiah, Crescent City, and everywhere in between.
We can, but given the health problems of many of our clients, we have been particularly careful during Covid. We find communicating over the phone or even with a Zoom meeting works in most cases. It saves travel costs as well. However, at times an in-person meeting is necessary and we can facilitate that with proper precautions.
Nothing. Give us a call!
In our initial phone call, we will ask you questions about why you are applying for disability. This will include questions about your medical impairments, including both physical and mental impairments. We will ask questions about your past and current medical treatment. We will also ask about your work history. Other issues will undoubtedly arise. These questions are all questions you will be asked by Social Security in your application for disability and help us determine your potential eligibility. You don’t need to have all of that information at your finger tips when you first call, just a willingness to answer questions.
No. In fact, we often talk to people who have not yet stopped working, but are seeking advice about whether disability is something they might qualify for in the near future. We help people at all stages of the process, from initial application through any necessary appeals.
Only if they are applying for disability benefits at the same time. We do not handle claims that are for retirement benefits alone. That is usually a straightforward matter that you can handle yourself with the help of local Social Security Field Office staff.
Yes. Social Security regulations require that your claims for disability be supported by “medically determinable evidence.” This means notes from doctor visits, therapists, emergency rooms, crisis clinics, in-patient hospitalizations, physical therapists, and other potential sources. If you are not getting medical treatment, your chances of getting approved for disability benefits are low.
All too often, people wait until after they are denied benefits to contact us. Their claims might be legitimate, but are denied due to incomplete medical and vocational information, inexpertly completed applications, or wrongheaded conclusions by their medical consultants. You can avoid these problems by reaching out to Linden and Cottrell Law in Napa, California before you file a claim. We know what documentation is required, have experience dealing with physicians to ensure that medical records submitted to SSA or private insurers are complete, and are familiar with how the court system works.