You may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) if you are permanently disabled and have worked long enough and paid social security taxes for an adequate amount of time. It can take several months to process an application for Social Security benefits so it is important that you apply as soon as you become disabled and that you file a complete application.
The first step in the process is filing your initial application. The Social Security Administration (SSA) and the state Office of Disability Determination Services (DDS) will review your application once it is submitted. You will be notified in writing of their determination of your qualification to receive benefits. Filing a complete application is important so that you have the best chance of approval. If your initial application is not approved, you have the right to appeal this decision. There are four levels of appeal: Reconsideration; Hearing by an administrative law judge; Review by the Appeals Council; and Federal Court review.
For the reconsideration appeal, your claim will be reviewed by a SSA representative who did not take part in reviewing your first decision. At this point, you have an opportunity to submit additional evidence to support your disability claim. If your reconsideration is denied, you have the right to request a hearing by an administrative law judge.
At the hearing, the judge will question you and your witnesses. Other witnesses may also be present such as medical or vocational experts. The hearing is very important as it give you an opportunity to explain your case and again present any new evidence to support your claim. After the hearing, the judge will supply a written decision regarding your claim. If you disagree with the judge's decision, you can bring your case before the SSA Appeals Council for review.
The Appeals Council will review your case but may deny your request if it believes the decision at the hearing was correct. If the Appeals Council agrees to review your case, they may send it back to an administrative law judge for review or make a decision itself. You will receive a written copy of the Appeals Council's decision. If you disagree with the findings of the Appeals Council, you will need to file a lawsuit in federal district court.
Submitting a strong Social Security disability application is important and we can help you organize and properly submit all required paperwork. If you are in the appeals process, we can help you collect and present any additional evidence. We can also prepare you for any hearings you are required to attend. Put our extensive experience with Social Security disability law to work for you to ensure you receive full benefits.
If you need assistance with your SSDI application or the appeals process, contact our office today.