The Steps Of A Social Security Benefits Claim
Social Security benefits are designed to provide financial support to those who are disabled, blind or over the age of 65. Although every benefits case is different — and highly unique depending on the exact circumstances of your age, work history and level of disability — many cases proceed through a number of common steps.
At The Law Center for Social Security Disability, located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, we are a law firm that specializes in Social Security Disability cases. From initial applications to appeals, our founding attorney — Gary Jones — will personally handle every aspect of your case and give you the benefit of his quarter-century experience in this complicated and challenging field of law.
The Benefits Process
You can improve your chances of getting your application approved by understanding the process — and discussing your situation with a qualified attorney.
Step 1: The Initial Application. Although the Social Security Administration (SSA) tries to present the application process as being simple and straightforward, it’s actually a tricky process that can trip-up those unfamiliar with the process. In fact, filling out the application incorrectly — or including seemingly innocuous information that can be used against you — can be extremely detrimental to your case.
Step 2: The Reconsideration Process. The SSA rejects and denies a great percentage of the applications they receive for benefits — indeed, only 25 percent of applications are approved on the first attempt. And this isn’t surprising, given that the system is set up to discourage people from applying for benefits. If your application has been denied, the next step is to file for reconsideration. At this step, if you haven’t already, it is very important to consult a local, experienced Social Security benefits attorney to develop a strategy to submit a stronger application for reconsideration. It’s also important to note that you have only 60 days to file for reconsideration.
Step 3: Administrative Hearing. If your reconsideration for benefits has also been denied, you may request a formal hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). Applicants have 60 days to request this hearing after receiving the reconsideration denial — but it may take up to two years to get your hearing in from of the ALJ. An experienced attorney can prepare you for this delay, and also gather all the appropriate medical and work history documentation you’ll need for the hearing, make sure your hearing file contains all the necessary information and present your case to the ALJ in the best possible light to increase your chances of being awarded benefits.
Step 4: Appeal. If the ALJ also denies your disability claim, you can request a review of your case by the Appeals Council or take your case to federal court. Appeals are mostly based on the existing case evidence in your file — no new evidence or documentation can be presented on appeal. Because of this, it’s extremely important that all the necessary information supporting your claim has been submitted during the application, reconsideration and administrative hearing steps of the process.
With so much at stake, it’s best not to tackle this process alone. When pursuing a SSI or SSDI claim, a qualified, experienced and local disability lawyer can help you get the benefits you deserve. Contact The Law Center for Social Security Disability for a free consultation by calling 405-896-8852 or filling out our online contact form.