Individuals with mental and/or physical conditions (impairments) that prevent them from sustaining work may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. This benefit can prove invaluable for those who are unable to sustain full-time work because of their medical conditions; however, the SSDI application process is often long, complicated and difficult.
Disability advocacy groups such as Citizens Disability can help disabled individuals navigate the system and receive the benefits they deserve. Learning more about each stage of the application process makes it easier for applicants to present a strong, effective case.
Step 1: The Initial SSDI Application
The process starts by filing an Initial Application. To do this you will need to provide your conditions, your symptoms, your limitations, your medical history since you became sick, and your work history for the past 15 years. Gathering this information prior to starting the application process makes things go more smoothly. Remember, in order to be eligible for benefits you need to prove that you cannot sustain a job – which means consistently working an 8 hour day, 5 days per week.
Step 2: Reconsideration
Applicants have the right to appeal their case if the initial claim is denied. This is called a Request for Reconsideration. This appeal must be submitted to the Social Security Administration within 60 days of the date of the denial. In most states, appealing the initial denial results in the SSA reconsidering the earlier denial. If the reconsideration is denied, applicants can request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
Step 3: The Hearing
Hearings before an ALJ can be intimidating without the help of an advocate. Having an experienced advocate can greatly improve your chances of having your claim approved. Advocates will collect and submit medical records on your behalf, write a comprehensive pre-hearing memorandum outlining your conditions and limitations, and make arguments as to why you should be approved for benefits based on the SSA’s rules and regulations.
The Appeals Process
If the claim is denied after the ALJ hearing, you have the right to appeal to the Social Security Administration’s Appeals Council. While each request for review is considered, only 20% of requests are granted.
If the Appeals Council chooses not to grant the request for a review, or if the results of the review are unfavorable, you can file a civil action in Federal District Court. You may also be able to submit a new application.
Getting Qualified Help Improves Your SSDI Application Dramatically
It’s clear that the SSDI application process isn’t always easy; however, applicants don’t need to handle their case on their own. To get started, first take our short quiz to see if you might qualify for SSDI, or call us directly at 1-800-492-3260 for more information on the application process and eligibility requirements.
Other Applying FAQs:
- Can Citizens Disability help with my application?
- Does this process take as long as I’ve heard about?
- Can I receive both Medicare and Social Security disability benefits?
- Do I receive compensation while I wait for my approval?
- If I am denied, should I reapply?
- How long does it take for an initial application to be decided?
- What happens during the reconsideration stage?
- At which stage do I require an advocate?
- Should I give medical updates to the disability authorities throughout the appeals processes?
- Are there any costs to me during the appeals process?