Applying for Social Security disability benefits can often be frustrating and confusing. It involves lots of paperwork and the vast majority of claims are denied at the early stages. The experienced and professional staff at Rob Levine & Associates will assist you throughout the Social Security process, no matter what stage your claim is at.
Initial Claim Application
The initial claim application is filed at the local Social Security office. Among other things, you will need to provide detail on all of your medical treatment, as well as your work history for the last fifteen years. Once the application is complete it is sent to Disability Determination Services (DDS), the government agency responsible for processing disability claims. DDS gathers your medical records and a team of medical and vocational personnel review your file and issue a decision.
When a claim for Social Security disability benefits is denied at the initial claim level, most claimants must request a reconsideration of that decision to start the appeal process. It’s called a reconsideration because the same state agency that issued the denial at the initial claim level reevaluates your claim again. The case is sent to a different DDS examiner for a new decision. It follows the same process again and about 80% of the time the reconsideration decision is the same as the initial decision- a denial.
While most cases are approved at this level, this is also the stage that has the longest wait. Because so many people have to have a Judge review their case before they are awarded Social Security disability benefits, this is the place where your case sits the longest. Often it is difficult to do much to push your case along at this level, because there are so many other urgent cases in line in front of you.
When the hearing decision is appealed, the Appeals Council will review the decision to determine if the Judge made any mistakes while adjudicating your claim. The Appeals Council will reverse or confirm the Judge’s decision, or remand the case back to the Judge for another hearing.
If the Appeals Council upholds the Judge’s unfavorable decision, your case may warrant an appeal to Federal Court. You would need to file a civil suit in a federal district court. If you bring a civil action seeking judicial review of the Social Security Administration's (SSA's) final decision, there is a fee for filing a civil action in Federal court. Your attorney will review whether this course is appropriate on a case-by-case basis.