For people with disabilities that render them unable to work, receiving Social Security disability benefits lessens the financial burden of dealing with their condition. However, most people don’t understand the social security disability application process and don’t know what steps to take if their initial application is denied.
The process of applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are the same, which is why it’s important to familiarize yourself with each stage of the application process. If you’re considering applying for benefits, it’s best to seek legal assistance from social security disability lawyers.
1. Determining which disability program to apply for.
Before you file a Social Security claim for benefits to the Social Security office, you should first understand the difference between SSDI and SSI benefits and look at the qualifications for these assistance programs.
Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are awarded based on the work history of individuals with disabilities. To be qualified to apply for disability benefits, you need to have enough work credits. Generally, you should’ve worked for 5 years full time in the last 10 years. There may be additional disability requirements depending on your age at the time of filing to be able to receive disability payments.
On the other hand, the SSI program is a disability program granted depending on the needs of the disabled person filing the claim. To qualify for SSI disability benefits, you need to prove that your medical condition and your monthly income both meet the program and disability criteria.
If you’re unsure whether you’re eligible to file a benefits claim, discuss your situation with a local disability lawyer.
2. Applying for disability benefits.
The first stage in claiming disability benefit is to apply for disability insurance benefits. This includes submitting disability claims along with the supporting documents to the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Note that most claimants receive an application denial after the initial review. Typically, this is due to a lack of medical records proving your disability status and documentation of your medical eligibility and medical treatment. An experienced social security attorney can help you prepare your claim for disability and increase your chances of receiving disability benefits.
3. Filing a request for reconsideration.
If your claim was denied, you’ll receive a notice explaining the reason for the decision and how long you have to appeal it. Make sure to review why your claim was denied and prepare supporting documents that can help change this decision.
Filing your request for reconsideration is the first step to the appeals process. If you get denied once again, you can proceed to the next step in the appeals process.
4. Requesting a court hearing.
The next step you can take if the decision remains the same after reconsideration is to request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). Your chances of getting approved increase significantly after the hearing. At the hearing, you’ll be questioned by the judge, as well as a medical and vocational expert.
At this point, it’s best to have a reliable disability attorney for legal representation to prepare you for questioning and cross-examine expert witnesses. If your claim is denied, you’ll be able to advance your case to the Appeals Council.
5. Appealing the decision at the council.
The last stage to appeal the decision on your disability claim is to take it to the appeals council. You can file your request for review within 60 days of receiving the ALJ decision. Note that the purpose of the review is to determine whether the judge made an error, which means that the council reviewed your whole case along with any additional documents.
There are three possible outcomes from the review:
- Your request to review is denied, and you’ll have 60 days to file an appeal to the federal district court.
- Your case is remanded back to the judge for another hearing and review.
- The council makes a new decision and grants SSDI or SSI payments for your claim.
If you or a loved one has become disabled, you may be eligible to apply for Social Security disability benefits. Our social security disability attorneys at Farmer & Wright, PLLC can help you determine if you’re eligible to receive benefits and provide legal assistance throughout the claiming and appeal process. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation!