The Social Security Disability Process
Social security disability benefits come in a variety of types to accommodate different needs and situations. Most individuals begin with standard social security disability or SSD. To qualify for this disability benefit, you must prove that you have been, or will be, disabled for at least 12 months. Benefits will be based on your disability, age and work history.
There are four stages for SSDI and SSI applications: Initial, Reconsideration, Hearing and Appeals Council.
Stage 1: Initial
When your first apply for disability benefits, you complete an Initial application. This can be filed at your local Social Security office, over the phone or online. Rarely will your application will be approved at the Initial stage. More likely, your application will be denied and three options remain: do nothing, file a new Initial claim, or file a Request for Reconsideration (recommended).
Stage 2: Request for Reconsideration
If your Initial application is denied, you have 60 days from the date of denial to file a Request for Reconsideration (Recon). Once again, while legal representation is not an absolute necessity, we suggest hiring a lawyer to assist in the filing of the Request, as a lawyer may deem it in your best interest to include additional data in your effort to have your denial overturned. At this stage, your claim is reviewed again by Social Security. If your Recon claim is approved, you will receive disability benefits. If not, three options remain: do nothing, file a new Initial claim, or file a Request for Hearing (recommended).
Stage 3: Hearing
When your Request for Reconsideration is denied, you again have 60 days from the date of your most recent denial to file a Request for Hearing. You have the greatest chance of being approved at this stage. The hearing takes place before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and claimants will receive a Notice of Hearing about 30 days before the hearing date. The hearing usually takes place at your local Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). While legal representation is not required for the hearing, IT IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, and since the lawyer works on a “contingent fee” basis there is no charge to you if are denied. A qualified disability attorney/advocate can present and defend your case in the most favorable manner. Going to a hearing without adequate representation is not a good idea.
Step 4: Appeals Council
You will usually receive a decision from the ALJ within a few months after your hearing. If your claim is approved, you will receive both a Notice of Decision and a Notice of Award. If your claim is denied, you can appeal the decision before the Appeals Council.
Learn About Obtaining SSDI or SSI Disability Benefits. Call Us Now.
To schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation, call us toll free at 877-456-4253 to reach our Somerville office or 866-350-4939 for our Flemington office. Or, if you prefer, contact us by e-mail using our online submission form. Evening and weekend appointments are available.