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Process of Securing Benefits

Did you know?

Studies show that a 20-year worker has a 3-in-10 chance of becoming disabled before reaching retirement age.

The Initial Claim

The initial claim application is both lengthy and detailed. Before beginning the application, you should gather all of the related documentation including the following:

  • 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
  • Your care provider's phone number
  • Your care provider's addresses
  • Details about where you worked and the type of work you performed
  • Employment related tax records such as your W-2

The initial claim can take 4 to 6 months to be processed and for a decision to be made. For either Social Security Disability or SSI, an application for disability benefits may be filed in-person at any SSA office, by telephone, mail, via the internet or you can have one of our trained professionals help you.

You should not become discouraged if your claim is initially denied. In 2004, 1.3 million of the initial applications were denied. This is when you should seek professional representation. We are thoroughly familiar with all aspects of the appeals process as well as experienced experts at providing Social Security with the documentation and evidence they need to approve your claim.

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. Reconsideration is a complete review of your claim by someone who did not take part in the first decision. They will look at all the evidence submitted when the original decision was made, plus any new evidence.

After approximately 4 to 6 months, a decision will be reached on the reconsideration request. The case will either be granted benefits or denied again. In some states, this process may vary.

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 or the reconsideration of your case. They will listen to witnesses, review medical evidence, and decide your case. One of our experienced representatives can help you through this.

The judge will not announce a decision at the hearing. It usually takes at least two to three months after the hearing to receive the decision, if not longer. If the decision is favorable, you should receive your first check about 8 - 12 weeks after the decision.

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. It is critical to have good legal representation to give you the best chance of winning the appeal.

A failure to appeal in a timely manner will result in having to start over with a brand new claim, unless a claimant can demonstrate "good cause" for why the appeal was not filed prior to the deadline.

Reasons falling under the good cause umbrella usually include illness, hospitalization, comprehension problems due to mental infirmity, or other circumstances beyond a claimant's control.

The Council looks at all requests for review, but it may deny a request if it believes the hearing decision was correct. If the Appeals Council decides to review your case, it will either decide your case itself or return it to an administrative law judge for further review.

If the Appeals Council denies your request for review, you will receive a letter explaining the denial. If the Appeals Council reviews your case and makes a decision itself, you will receive a copy of the decision. If the Appeals Council returns your case to an administrative law judge, you will receive a letter and a copy of the order.

Federal Court

If the Appeals Council denies your appeal and/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 (1) award disability benefits, (2) deny disability benefits, or (3) send your case back to a lower court for an additional hearing. It is critical to have good legal representation to give you the best chance of winning the appeal.

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 analysts and case managers is always available to take your calls and emails. The case analysts review your information while the case managers prepare your files to appropriately represent your case throughout the court hearing process. We know how difficult your situation is and we want to help you get the benefits you deserve.

If you, a friend, or a loved one needs to file a claim for social security disability, please use the Contact Request Form to have one of our experienced representatives call or email you today.

To learn more about what we can do for you, click the link to "How We Can Help" to learn more about how our professionals can ease the process for you every step of the way, ensuring you the best possible opportunity to have your claim approved.

Remember, no fee is collected if your social security disability claim is not won, and fees are only collected after you have benefited from our service.

Always consult with an experienced social security disability professional when you need help getting your disability benefits. Please contact the SSDI lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers today. We have offices nationwide.