Applying for Social Security Disability
First, you are required to fill out a Disability Report and a Work History Report.
It is important that you fill these documents out completely and accurately for your case to have the best chance of being accepted.
We have the experience and insight to make sure you have done everything possible to receive your benefits.
Will I Qualify?
“Does my disability qualify me for SSD benefits??”
This question can only be answered on a case-by-case basis. It’s hard to answer directly because of the individual information that is required: severity of impairment, symptoms, medical history, even whether or not you can read and write English.
How to Apply for Disability Benefits
You may apply for SSDI and SSI either online or via mail. However, the application process can be long. It requires a significant amount of documentation about your disability, medical treatment, past work history, education, and more. It’s best to work with a Social Security disability lawyer to help you submit an initial application for Social Security disability benefits.
You will need to provide your attorney with the following:
- Your Social Security number;
- Your birth certificate or a state issued ID card for proof of age;
- Information about your medical providers and treatment facilities;
- Copies of laboratory tests and other medical exam results;
- Information about your past work experience, including years and job descriptions;
- Most recent tax returns and W2 or 1099 forms;
- Your marriage certificate or other proof of marriage;
- Your divorce decree or other proof of divorce;
- Social Security numbers for children and dependents who may qualify for benefits; and
- Information about workplaces of your spouse or ex-spouse.
An experienced Social Security disability lawyer can use this information to complete your disability benefits application.
The Social Security Disability Evaluation Process
When you submit your initial application, your case will be assigned to a representative from the SSA who will take the following steps:
- The SSA will determine if you are currently working enough to qualify as substantial gainful activity (SGA). If you have SGA, or are earning too much income, you may be disqualified from disability benefits.
- If you are not working at all or do not have SGA, then the SSA will determine whether you have a determinable impairment. This means they will determine if your mental or physical disability qualifies you for disability benefits. You must have substantial medical evidence to establish a determinable impairment.
- If you do have a determinable impairment, then the SSA will evaluate your level of impairment. If you have a significant level of impairment, you may qualify for benefits. However, if not, you may be disqualified. A Social Security Disability lawyer is important at this step because they can present convincing evidence that your impairment is significant enough to warrant disability benefits.
- The SSA will review your past work experience and determine your residual functional capacity (RFC).
- The SSA will determine if you can complete any past work or other work according to your RFC.
If you are determined to be disabled and you cannot work, then you may be qualified for disability benefits. A Social Security disability lawyer can help you manage the steps in this process by providing necessary information to the SSA that meets all the criteria they seek.
What to Do If Your Social Security Claim Has Been Denied
When applying for SSD benefits, some cases are denied upon their first application. If your claim has been denied, you may be able to get the benefits you rightly deserve through the appeal process.
There’s a few important factors to remember when appealing your denied case:
- There are strict deadlines
- Get an opinion from a medical professional
- Have your medical records handy
- Obtain your case file and have your attorney analyze it
- Create a winning case theory
- Learn about your hearing
- Prepare a detailed testimony
- Be prepared to properly explain medical inconsistency
Common Reasons for a Denied Disability Claim
Many SSD applications are denied initially, and many more are denied throughout the appeal process. There are many reasons for a denied disability claim, including the following:
- Your current income is too high;
- Your disability isn’t severe enough;
- The disability isn’t expected to last long enough;
- The SSA cannot contact you;
- You do not cooperate with the SSA process;
- You do not follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations;
- Your disability is due to alcoholism or drug addiction;
- You have been convicted of a felony or are in prison; or
- You commit fraud to obtain disability benefits.
These reasons will all disqualify you for disability benefits and result in a denied disability claim. However, if you work with a disability lawyer, you may be able to avoid these common pitfalls and achieve a SSD approval.
If you do something intentional that results in a denied disability claim, such as commit fraud, then you may be disqualified for benefits for an extended period of time. It’s best to consult with a disability lawyer before you make an initial application to determine if you qualify for benefits.
Make Sure You Continue Medical Treatment
If your SSD claim is denied, you should immediately work with an attorney to address the denied disability claim. The SSA will likely give you factors that caused your claim to be denied. Your attorney can gather evidence that will address these factors and meet the requirements of the SSA.
After a denied disability claim, you should continue medical treatment consistently. If you stop seeing your doctor, the SSA may think your condition has improved. You must see your primary care doctor and any specialists regularly so that they will continue to support your claim. It’s important to have a strong medical team who believes you are disabled while going through the disability review process. Your attorney can request updated medical records throughout the appeals process and continue to update the SSA with relevant information about the progression of your condition.
Understanding the SSD Appeals Process
If you experience a denied disability claim, then you should submit an appeal. The appeals process can take weeks, months, or years, depending on the SSA’s caseload. It’s best to work with a disability lawyer to help you navigate the SSD appeals process.
After your initial claim is denied, you will have 60 days from the date of your notice to request reconsideration of your claim. During this step, the SSA will appoint a new claims reviewer who did not evaluate your original application. However, the claims evaluator will review all of your submitted information as well as anything new that you submit.
If your request for reconsideration is denied, you have 60 days to appeal your claim to an administrative law judge (ALJ). An ALJ will allow you to present your information at a hearing and answer questions about your disability. You may also present additional evidence to the ALJ.
If the ALJ further denies your appeal, then you can request a review of your case by an Appeals Council. The Appeals Council will be made up of multiple people and will review all of your information, as well as the answers that you provided the ALJ. After each stage of the appeals process, you will be given information about why your claim is denied. You can use that information at the next level after a denied disability claim.
If all stages of the SSA appeals process result in a denied disability claim, then you can appeal your claim to a federal district court. This requires filing a federal lawsuit against the SSA to claim that they made a mistake in your claim. At this level, you must submit a document summarizing why you qualify for SSD benefits and why the SSA was incorrect in denying your disability claim.
What Other Options Are There for Dealing With a Denied Claim?
If your SSD claim is denied, you may appeal. However, you have other options as well. It’s best to work with an attorney after a denied disability claim. You may be unsure of your legal options. A knowledgeable disability attorney can provide you with necessary information and help you make a decision that will obtain the best outcome possible.
- Reopen your claim. Instead of appealing your claim to a higher SSA level or federal court, you may request that the previous administrative level of the SSA reopen your claim. During this process, the SSA would review your claim again at the same level. This can be beneficial if you believe the SSA failed to review all of the information you submitted with your claim.
- File a new claim. If your claim is denied or you lose your appeal, you can abandon that case and file a new one. This would require you to submit a new SSD application with the SSA. If the condition of your impairment has become worse, you may have a better chance of being approved upon initial application if you file a new claim.
It’s important to work with an attorney to navigate the appeals process after a denied disability claim. The information you need to provide the SSA must be thorough and should include legal arguments in your favor. Attorney Gary Brown has worked with countless clients who have faced a denied disability claim. He will listen to your situation and help you file a successful appeal. Call Disability Attorney Services, LLC to begin the appeals process.