Social Security Disability Process

The Social Security Disability Application Process

The Social Security Disability Process

When you become disabled, a feeling of panic may wash over you.  You may worry about how you’ll pay bills and keep yourself afloat to make ends meet. Being unable to work is a daunting change in our lives. That’s why Social Security Disability is there for people like you who need help.

Understanding the Social Security Disability programs is extremely useful when you are making decisions about your future. The Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income benefit programs are available for people over 18 who qualify. Children under 18 may qualify for SSI based on their medical problems as well.

Can I Apply?

The first step in applying for Social Security Disability is finding out if you qualify. Based on your work history, you may qualify to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.  If you have little recent work history, you may qualify to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

To apply for SSI, you must meet the low-income requirements. To apply for Social Security Disability benefits, you must have about ten years of recent work.  Social Security will evaluate your application and let you know what you can apply for.

How Do I Get Approved?

If you suffer from long-lasting injuries or illnesses (lasting over a year), you may be approved for Social Security benefits. You can apply for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits, however, you need prove how bad your health is.  Your approval will depend mostly on the quality of your recent medical care.  This will be the evidence that you cannot return to even a basic, full-time job.  You must gather information about your medical treatment and your past work—such as contact information for all hospitals and doctors you have seen, contact information for employers from the past 15 years, and the various medications you have been prescribed. You will also complete forms about your symptoms and your day-to-day limitations. The Social Security Administration takes all this information to understand how your medical problems keeps you from working.

While your medical problems must be severe enough to keep you out of work at least a year, some medical problems are significant enough to allow an approval. A “shortcut” to meet the Social Security’s definition of disability is when your medical problems meet the requirements of Social Security’s “Listings.” This law describes medical problems so severe that full-time work is clearly impossible. Some of the conditions in the medical listings book include asthma, heart failure, cancer, musculoskeletal problems, cardiovascular conditions, and senses and speech issues. The full list can be found at the Social Security Administration’s website. Although meeting a listing is a shortcut to an approval, it’s difficult to prove. Most people who apply have been unable to work long before their medical problems get this bad.

On the other hand, if Social Security decides that your medical problems are not too severe, not being treated, or can’t be diagnosed, Social Security may decide you can return to work and disapprove your application. The easiest way to understand how Social Security works is to speak with an experienced Social Security Disability attorney. An attorney can explain how to increase your chances of getting Social Security benefits.

How to Apply for Social Security Disability

How Do I Apply?

You can apply online at the Social Security Administration’s website, over the phone by calling the toll-free number (1-800-772-1213), or by going to your local Social Security Administration office and applying in person. It’s most important to answer questions correctly and complete your application.

You may need documentation to apply. Some examples of this documentation are birth certificates, proof of U.S. citizenship, and W-2 forms. An established Social Security law firm can apply for you.

What Will I Be Asked?

During the application process, the Social Security Administration must ask you questions. SSA first asks background questions, such as your name, gender, social security number, date and location of birth, and citizenship status. After this, SSA goes more in depth.  Be ready to answer questions such as:  Do “you have or had a child under age 3 living with you during a calendar year when you had no earnings”, have “you received or expect to receive any money from an employer since the date you became unable to work”, and do “you have any unsatisfied felony or arrest warrants for escape from custody, flight to avoid prosecution or confinement, or flight-escape.”

These are preliminary questions to determine if you can apply.

What Are My Odds?

It can take roughly 90 to 120 days (or more) for Social Security to process your application for Social Security Disability benefits. Waiting for an answer is the worst part for many. There is a lot riding on the result. Of the countless applications for benefits that the Social Security Administration receives, only about thirty percent are approved at the initial level. This leaves seventy percent considering an appeal to get benefits.

The odds aren’t great, but the next appeal level is to request a “reconsideration.”  The Social Security Administration approves a mere 10 percent at this level.  The appeal process is time consuming.  If you give up, you may have to start over. Starting a new claim, however, is not always possible.  If your doctors believe you can work, then work. Otherwise, appealing your denial is the only chance to be approved.

If you are denied at the reconsideration level, you need to request a hearing before a Social Security judge. Many more people are approved at this level.  Your odds of approval go up further if you bring your Social Security Disability attorney to your hearing to correct the errors made on your claim and to point out how your medical evidence proves you cannot work.

Claiming Your Social Security Disability Benefit

Do you think you may qualify for Social Security on the basis of a disability but have never applied, or have you applied but were denied? Please call us, or complete our Free Disability Evaluation today. It only takes 5 minutes, and it could change your life.

The Social Security Disability Process can seem a little complicated at first glance, but our team of Disability and Social Security attorneys and staff will be there to explain it all to you, and guide you every step of the way.

How Does the Process Work?

Each step in the Social Security Disability Process requires its own set of forms and information about your particular medical condition, and denials have to be appealed within a specific time period. Our lawyers understand Social Security’s requirements at every level and can help you with certain strategies that have been proven to increase the chances of success for some of our clients.

Social Security Disability and SSI claims follow an appeal process:

  1. Application
  2. Reconsideration
  3. Hearing
  4. Appeals Council
  5. Federal Court

The majority of people trying to get Social Security disability benefits are denied at the lower levels. This is not as hopeless as it sounds however, as claims are very often approved at the hearing level. So don’t despair. One of our team of licensed attorneys will accompany you to your hearing, where they will argue your claim, cross-examine experts, and make sure your legal rights are upheld based on testimony and evidence.

At the appeals council level and beyond, legal errors can be sent back (remanded) or approved (reversed).

Social Security Disability Evaluation