The Social Security disability claim process in Maine may require several stages.
The first stage is the review of your initial application. You can file an initial application for benefits online, or at a Social Security local “field” office. There are nine local Social Security offices in Maine, located in Saco, Portland, Auburn, Augusta, Rockland, Bangor, Waterville, Rumford and Presque Isle. Pick the office closest to you.
Maine attorney Gordon Gates can help you at each stage of the Social Security disability claim process, including the initial application, your appeal, and your hearing. Each stage is discussed below.
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Once you apply for benefits, the Social Security Administration will send your case to Disability Determination Services, a Maine state agency in Augusta, to gather additional medical information and to make an initial determination on your claim. That determination is usually made within three or four months.
If your case is denied (and most claims in Maine are denied at this stage), then you must appeal within 60 days of your initial denial letter, by requesting a Reconsideration. Your claim will then be assigned to a new disability examiner, and will be evaluated by dirrent medical professionals employed by Disability Determination Services. Any new evidence submitted will be considered, and a new decision will be issued.
If your case is denied again (and most cases are denied again at this stage), you must request a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge within 60 days. The hearings for Maine residents are conducted at the Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) in Portland, Maine.
The hearings are held in person, by video conference, or by telephone. At the hearing, the judge will review the medical evidence, hear your testimony, and may obtain testimony from a medical or vocational expert witness.
Additionally, the Maine judges ask for a hearing brief from your representative. The hearing brief sets forth the background facts of your claim, the medical evidence, and a “theory of the case” telling the judge why your claim should be granted under the Social Security disability evaluation process.
It is very important to select a Social Security disability lawyer who has experience with the judges who may decide your case. For this reason, an out-of-state attorney or “national” Social Security firm may not be the best choice for your Maine disability claim.