Understanding the Full Process
The process starts with an initial application for disability benefits, and additional steps are available in the case of denials.
1. Initial application. At this point, your application will be reviewed first for technical eligibility, meaning whether you qualify at a basic level for benefits. These determinations are non-medical and are made prior to evaluating your medical condition. Technical denials are usually only appealable in the case of an error or mistake.
After eligibility is established, your medical evidence will be reviewed and evaluated through a five-step process in which the evaluator will look at whether you are engaging in substantial gainful activity, the severity of your medical condition, the presence of your medical condition (or a comparable condition) on the List of Impairments, your ability to complete your previous type of work and your ability to adjust to other work in the national economy.
2. Hearing before a judge. If your initial application is denied, you can request a hearing before an administrative law judge within 60 days of denial for disability benefits. At the hearing you will have the opportunity to provide your own testimony and medical evidence of disability. A vocational expert will be present to offer testimony regarding your past work, job availability in the current labor market and any skills needed to perform certain jobs in the national economy.
In some cases, medical experts may also present testimony to the judge regarding your medical impairments. If you do not wish to testify or have a hearing, you can waive this right and ask the judge to make a decision based on the medical evidence already submitted.
3. Appeals Council. If you do not agree with the judge’s decision, you can file an appeal with the Appeals Council within 60 days of the judge’s decision. The Appeals Council will consider all evidence submitted previously, including the hearing record, before deciding to deny your appeal or send it back for another review.
4. Subsequent Appeals. If the Appeals Council does not find in your favor, you may make further appeals, which are filed in the federal courts, beginning with the U.S. District Court.
Multiple Choices for Applying
There are multiple ways to apply for Social Security Disability. The most common method is by applying at a local Social Security office. If you apply at an office, be sure to call first to make an appointment.
Another way to apply is by telephone. Call 1-800-772-1213 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can call TTY 1-800-325-0778.
An increasingly popular way to apply is by applying online.
How To Apply
Regardless of which of the above methods you use to apply, you will need to gather a lot of information in order to complete your application. Providing thorough and accurate information can be key to eliminating unnecessary delays in an already lengthy, tedious process. The Social Security Administration provides a detailed checklist of required information to assist you in preparing your application, which will include information on the following:
- Birth and Citizenship
- Marriage and Divorce
- S. Military Service
- Employer Details
- Domestic Banking (for Direct Deposit)
- Referent Who Can Help Support Your Claim
- Medical Conditions
- Doctors, Healthcare Professionals, Hospitals, and Clinics
- Medical Records From Other Sources
- Job History
- Education and Training
What Does It Mean If I Am Approved?
Once your application is approved, you will be paid beginning with the sixth month after your disability began. The amount of your monthly benefit is based on your lifetime average earnings covered by Social Security.
The Law Offices of Lee Steinberg Can Help
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Lee Steinberg can significantly increase your odds of success in your Social Security Disability claim. We see many clients who could have saved themselves months of frustration and waiting if only they had sought the assistance of an experienced Michigan Social Security attorney while completing their initial application for benefits. Not only can we help you understand the different ways of applying for benefits, but we will also fight hard on your behalf throughout the difficult process.
Whether you are inquiring into your eligibility for benefits, beginning the process of filing a claim, or have already been denied, we can help. We have a long history of winning cases and significant financial compensation for our clients. Contact our offices at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form to get started with a free consultation. As always, you pay nothing until we settle your Social Security Disability case.