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Understand How the Social Security Disability Application Process Works

Applying for Social Security Disability benefits is not something to be taken lightly. When you are dealing with a serious disability and are unable to work, you need to be sure that you can qualify to receive the needed benefits. You cannot simply “show up” at the local Social Security office and sign your name on the proverbial dotted line. Rather, you will need to take part in the formal application process.

This is where many people seeking disability benefits falter. They do not properly complete the application and/or have a limited understanding of how the overall application process works, and such an approach simply does not translate into being approved for Social Security Disability benefits. In order to successfully claim the disability benefits that you rightfully deserve, you will need to have a clear understanding of how the application process works.

First, it is necessary to apply for benefits as soon as possible once you have become disabled. Don’t delay in filing an application, as it can take up to 3-5 months for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to reach a decision and you will want the process to be initiated as soon as possible. Why make the process take longer than the bare minimum when it is in your benefit to speed the process up? You can apply via mail, in person, online or even via telephone. Choose whichever method you feel is most convenient for you, but applying online or in person are often the most efficient.

As far as how to apply for Social Security Disability, the first step entails the application being forwarded to the local SSA field offices and the division of the state agencies known as the Disability Determination Services (DDS). DDS representatives will then review the application and make a determination as to its validity. The DDS field office will also review issues not related to the medical condition such as eligibility requirements based on age, employment status, marital status, and Social Security benefits payment history. Upon determining these eligibility basics, the application is sent to the state office where the medical review components can be assessed.

At the state level, a closer inspection of the medical condition and records will be performed. This will be the linchpin section of the application where approval or denial will be determined.

What happens if the Social Security Disability claim is denied? There is a Social Security Disability appeals process that gives you an opportunity to have your case reconsidered. Appeals will be directed to the appeals division of the DDS office. If the appeal does not turn out in your favor, you may need to take the case to a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge in the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review on the federal level of the SSA. If your appeal goes this route, hiring a qualified Social Security Disability lawyer or advocate would be highly advisable.

While the “hands-on” nature of applying for Social Security Disability may seem intimidating, this does arguably provide some benefit by promoting honesty throughout the application process. That, in turn, prevents individuals not qualified for benefits from illegitimately procuring payments, and helps ensure that those who are actually entitled to disability benefits do eventually receive them.