If you are applying for Social Security disability in Clayton or elsewhere in Georgia, you may be wondering what to expect. The process of applying for Social Security Disability Insurance/Supplemental Security Income (SSDI/SSI) has many nuances and can be extremely complicated. An experienced Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) can explain the process to you and help you apply for SSDI/SSI as well as appeal if your claim is denied.
Step 1: Meeting with a Representative
The first step in the disability claims process is meeting with a representative who will gather information necessary to determine whether or not your claim meets the requirements of the Social Security Administration (SSA). You should be prepared to answer questions regarding your birth, residency, citizenship, marriage, finances, education, past work, medical history, and your disability. You should also bring any documents that provide information about those things.
Step 2: Submitting an Application
Once your representative gathers information from you, we will submit an application on your behalf. Applications for SSDI/SSI may be submitted online and supporting evidence is then mailed to the SSA.
More than two million applications for disability benefits are submitted each year. Of those, approximately 30% are denied for technical reasons, such as current income that exceeds allowances, lack of work credits, missing medical evidence, or lack of detailed information on the application. Because we do not want your application to be immediately denied due to technical reasons, we will ask you in-depth questions during our initial meeting.
Step 3: A Claims Examiner Is Assigned
About 70% of the SSDI/SSI applications submitted proceed to a 5-step evaluation process. During this step of the process, a claims examiner is assigned to your specific claim. The claims examiner evaluates all of the evidence that we submit and may request additional information. The examiner considers the following:
- Your current work status.
- The severity of your condition.
- Whether or not your impairment meets SSA criteria.
- Whether or not you can do work that you’ve previously done.
- Whether or not you can do any other kind of work.
More than 60% of applications are denied at this level. Of those, about 50% of claimants go on to appeal their claims. The other 10% give up. With the help of an experienced ADR, you will have the ability to confidently appeal a denial.
Step 4: Appeal Disability Claims Process
If your application is initially denied, within 60 days of the date of denial we will request reconsideration by the state disability determination services. At this step, a different disability examiner and medical team will be assigned to your claim. We may submit additional evidence for consideration. Medical treatment is essential throughout this process so that we can continuously update disability information with the SSA. Only 10% of people are approved through reconsideration. The other 90% are denied; however, only 18% of those denials continue with the appeal process.
Step 5: Administrative Hearing
Within 60 days, we will appeal a denial of the reconsideration. At this point, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will review all documentary evidence submitted in the claim as well as witness testimony. An official hearing will be held where we may ask questions of the witness and present arguments to the ALJ. An ALJ will issue a determination, which may be appealed if denied.
Step 6: Appeals Council Review
If the ALJ denies your claim, you may appeal to an appeals council; however, the appeals council may refuse to hear the claim. If they accept the claim, the appeals council will review all evidence of record, any additional evidence submitted, and the ALJ’s decision. The council may also consult with physicians. They will uphold, change, or reverse the ALJ’s decision. The appeals council may make findings but send the claim back to the ALJ for another hearing. If your claim is dismissed or denied, you may appeal directly to federal court within 60 days.
Step 7: Federal Court Appeal
A claim that is denied may be appealed to federal court. The court will consider all evidence on record, additional evidence, and decisions made by lower level reviewers. Your lawyer may also submit a brief detailing exactly how your claim meets the requirements of an SSDI/SSI claim. The federal court approves more than 80% of the claims that it reviews. Thus, once you reach the federal court appeal level, you have a much better chance of approval.
Step 8: Receiving Benefits
Once approved, SSDI benefits are payable approximately 6 months after the date that SSA determines your disability to have begun. However, you may also be able to receive “back pay” for benefits lost prior to that waiting period. If your claim went through a lengthy appeal process, you will receive a large lump sum payment to “catch up” on benefits that you were owed throughout the process.
SSI claimants are eligible for payments beginning the first day of the month following the application date. SSI payments do not include a “back pay” period. Thus, it is essential that you apply for SSI right when you are eligible.
If you are applying for Social Security disability in Clayton or elsewhere in central Georgia, Adams & Associates can assist you. We will be with you at each step from the initial application through your hearing. Call us at 1-888-551-1190 today.