If you suffer from a medical illness or condition that hinders your ability to work a full-time job, whether it be physical or even mental, you may be able to successfully claim social security disability benefits from the Social Security Administration, also referred to as the SSA. The Social Security Disability process can be somewhat complex- you have to understand the disability benefits eligibility requirements, the procedures for submitting a disability claim, the appeals process, and more.
Hopefully, we can help clear up some of the confusion and provide you with a more in-depth explanation of what to expect in the Social Security Disability process.
The Basics of Social Security Disability
It’s important to understand that the SSA actually offers two different types of benefits to disabled workers, which is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
SSDI is offered to people who have paid into the social security system and is funded by the social security deductions from paychecks. SSI, on the other hand, is offered to those of low-income, children, and the blind.
To qualify for disability benefits and be considered “disabled,” you will need to have a condition that prevents you from being able to earn a certain amount of monthly income as a full-time employee.
Additionally, to claim SSDI benefits or SSI benefits, your disability should have lasted for at least 12 continuous months (or, be expected to last 12 months), or, the condition is expected to result in your death.
To help applicants understand the disability determination process, the SSA actually provides their “blue book,” which contains an official listing of medical impairments that are approved as medical conditions by its standards.
This list contains conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, chronic coronary disease; certain mental disorders such as autism, depression, and anxiety; and hearing or vision loss. However, since each disability case is considered on an individual basis, you may be eligible to receive social security benefits even if the condition you suffer from isn’t outlined in the blue book.
The Disability Benefits Application Process
Social security disability claims can be filed in three different ways: online, in person at your local social security office, or via telephone at the SSA phone number. Be advised that disability benefits application process will go much better and quicker if you have the required documents ready in advance. This will include your social security number, tax statements, the dates of all therapy sessions and/or medical records and medical procedures, and the names of any prescription medications you are taking.
Also, one of the most important key factors to your disability claim is your “disability onset date.” This is defined as the exact date which your disability became too debilitating to work a full-time job. This disability onset date is determined by a number of factors: the allegations you listed in your disability application, your work history, medical evidence, and sometimes, even interviews with friends and family members.
If your initial SSDI claim or SSI claim is denied, don’t get too discouraged. In fact, most disability claimants are actually denied the first time for a number of various reasons. But sometimes, they will be approved following an appeal.
How to Appeal A Denied Disability Claim
If your disability claim is denied by the SSA, you have four opportunities to appeal the denial. The first option is rather simple; requesting your claim to be reconsidered by another SSA representative, and the last option being a claim in federal court:
- Hearing held before an Administrative Law Judge
- Review of your claim by the SSA Appeals Council
- Claim in federal court
An estimated one-third of all initial disability claims and reconsiderations result in an approval following an appeal, with the majority of hearings ending with a favorable result for the claimant.
Claimants have 60 days after receiving their SSA notice to file a request for an appeal. Typically, general hearings are rather informal and usually only take about an hour to complete, but if you prepare in advance for the hearing, your chances of having your claim approved will improve drastically.
Let Our Experienced SSDI Attorneys Help You
Navigating the SSDI application process and dealing with the Social Security Administration on your own can be extremely complicated. Due to the complexity of social security, it’s important that you know your rights and understand all the steps involved throughout the process. This is why it’s advised to reach out to a disability attorney experienced in social security disability benefits.
The law firm of Saffren & Weinberg has extensive experience in Social Security Disability Insurance cases and can be a great asset to your SSDI case. Contact the lawyers of Saffren & Weinberg today at (215) 309-9577 for a free consultation with a disability lawyer.