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Process of Securing Benefits
1. The Initial Claim
In order to avoid long delays, it is important to provide the Social Security Office with all of the applicable paperwork needed when you file your claim. Before applying for social security, you should gather all of the related documentation:
• Original or certified copies of personal identification
• Information about all of your prescription(s)
• Records for all of your medical treatment
• Dates of service
• Lab and test results
• Your care provider's name, phone number, and addresses
• Details about where you worked and the type of work you performed
• Employment related tax records such as your W-2
An application for disability benefits may be at a SSA office, by telephone, mail, via the internet, or you can have one of our trained attorneys help you. You should not become discouraged if your claim is initially denied but instead seek professional representation at this time.
2. The Appeals Process
- Reconsideration of your Initial Claim
You must request a reconsideration of your claim within 60 days of receipt of the denial letter. This is a complete review of your claim by someone who did not take part in the first decision. After 4 to 6 months, a decision will be reached on the reconsideration request. The case will either be granted benefits or denied again. This process may vary in some states.
- Hearing by an administrative law judge
If your claim is denied after reconsideration, you have 60 days to request an informal hearing which will be held in front of an administrative law judge who had no part in the first decision of your case. They will listen to witnesses, review medical evidence, and decide your case. It usually takes at least two to three months after the hearing to receive the decision. If the decision is favorable, you should receive your first check after 8 to 12 weeks.
- Review by the Appeals Council
If the judge's decision is not in your favor, the next step is to request a review by the Appeals Council. This must be done within 60 days after you have received the hearing decision. A failure to appeal in a timely manner will result in having to start over with a new claim, unless a claimant can demonstrate "good cause" for why the appeal was not filed prior to the deadline.
- Federal Court
If the Appeals Council denies your appeal or refuses to review your case, you have 60 days to file a lawsuit in a federal district court. After reviewing the record from your hearing, the Federal judge can award disability benefits, deny disability benefits, or send your case back to a lower court for an additional hearing.
We are available to help you handle all contact with Social Security, and stay in touch with their staff to ensure timely processing of your claim. Our staff of paralegals, case analysis, and case managers is always available to help you. If you, a friend, or a loved one needs to file a claim for social security disability, please contact us today.