The steps for filing a claim are rather complicated. That is why many people prefer to hire an attorney to assist them throughout the process. It is helpful if people know what to expect and what obstacles may get in the way.
First, people need to submit an initial application. Applicants can do this at their local Social Security office, but there are also options for doing it online or over the phone. At this point, the application can obtain approval or denial. A vast majority of the time, the office denies the initial application. At this point, people can give up or file another initial application. However, the best course of action is to request reconsideration.
People can opt for reconsideration. The applicant creates another application and sends it to the Social Security office. However, the person needs to do this within 60 days of the initial denial. At this point, the application could receive approval. If the office denies the claim again, then the person can opt for a hearing.
Within 60 days of the reconsideration failing, the applicant can request a formal hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge. Hearings usually occur locally. At the hearing, the applicant presents his or her case. It is a good idea to have an attorney at this step. In the event the hearing fails, the final option is to take the matter in front of an appeals council.
An applicant can make a final claim with the appeals council. However, an appeals council generally does not reverse the decision made by an Administrative Law Judge. The claims process can be long and grueling, but it is worth it to obtain approval.