Making the decision to apply for Social Security Disability benefits is not an easy one. You have to consider the length of the process and come to terms with the fact that you just can’t physically or mentally work on a full-time basis anymore. For many people, that is a difficult realization to come to. Knowing what to expect from the Social Security Disability application process may help reduce the frustrations you will feel from working with a government agency.
A Look at the Social Security Disability Application Process
There are three main stages of the Social Security Disability application process. The first stage is the initial application. This stage requires a significant amount of information. You will need to provide the Social Security Administration (SSA) with not only your basic contact details, including those of your children and spouse but also your work history from the past fifteen years as well as a list of doctors you’ve seen and medications you’ve taken since you stopped working.
Once this information is provided, the SSA will then perform a two-step analysis. The first step is to determine if you meet the technical requirements of the program. In other words, the SSA will review whether the amount you have paid in taxes over the years qualifies you for participation in the disability program. If it is determined you do qualify for disability coverage, the second step in the analysis is determining if you meet the medical definition of disability. To do this, the SSA will obtain copies of all of your medical records from the time you stopped working. The SSA will also ask you to complete questionnaires about your physical and mental capabilities. In addition, the organization may have your claim reviewed by an independent doctor with knowledge of the Social Security regulations. This whole process generally takes three to five months but could take longer depending upon your claim and the jurisdiction you are in.
If you are denied benefits at the initial application stage, you have the ability to appeal that denial to what is called the reconsideration stage. In this second stage, you are essentially saying to Social Security that you think the organization made a mistake and you want them to take another look at your case. The SSA will not need to perform technical analysis in this stage, but they will again perform a medical analysis, taking another three to five months.
If your claim is denied again (which the odds are high for a denial), you would then need to request a hearing before an administrative law judge. A hearing is the third stage of the Social Security application process. Hearings are beneficial because it gives you an opportunity to explain your side of the story. Up until that point, the SSA has made determinations based on the paperwork they have received. But at a hearing, a Judge will listen to your testimony before making a determination. The drawback of requesting a hearing is the wait time. While every jurisdiction is different, the state of Florida takes approximately 12 months to schedule a hearing.
If you have decided to take the leap and apply for disability benefits, it is highly recommended to obtain the help of an experienced Social Security Disability attorney. The Social Security Disability application process is lengthy and requires a significant amount of information. Having the assistance of an experienced Social Security Disability attorney can not only help speed up the process but also resolve some of your frustrations.
At LaBovick Law Group, we provide free consultations. We also only get paid if we are able to win your case. You have nothing to lose by calling us today. Our contact number is (561) 623-3681. We look forward to speaking with you soon.