A disability claim is a request for income assistance filed with the Social Security Administration. A claim is filed when a person believes that a mental or physical disability leads to his/her inability to lead a normal life or find a job. Depending on your medical and financial history, you can either file for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.
The disability claims process consists of five stages: initial, reconsideration, hearing, appeals council hearing and Federal District Court appeal. An initial claim involves filling out either an SSDI or SSI application. Your application will either be denied or approved by a Social Security claims representative within three to five months. Over 60% of applicants are denied during the initial stage. If denied, you have 60 days to file for reconsideration. Your reconsideration application will once again either be denied or approved by a Social Security claims representative. About 85% of reconsideration cases get denied. If denied again you can request a hearing, during which you or your representative can argue your case in front of an Administrative Law Judge. If you are unhappy with the judge’s decision, then you may file an appeal with the Social Security appeals council. The council can deny your appeal, send it back to the Administrative Law Judge for review or decide to award or deny benefits itself. If you are unsatisfied with the council’s decision, then you may file an appeal with the Federal District Court of Appeals.
How to File a Disability Claim
A disability claim can either be filed yourself or through a disability advocate. Before filing a claim, an applicant should be able to prove that he/she is expected to be out of work for at least a year due to a permanent disability. One should also make sure that there are sufficient medical documents and physician’s opinions to confirm the existence and severity of the disabling condition. You must not be able to perform your previous job nor should you be able to get a different job that would pay you in excess of $1,000/month.
Gathering the necessary evidence can be a rather time consuming and complicated process. Thus, it is recommended that one hires a Social Security Disability attorney before beginning the application process. Usually, an attorney will not collect any fees unless you win your case. Typical attorney fees are about 25% of the claim that has been awarded to you. An attorney can receive no more $6,000 for winning a Social Security Disability case. To contact a disability attorney or advocate who can review your case at no charge, please fill out our Free Evaluation.
All disability claims can be filed by phone, at a local Social Security office or online. The hearing stage will be conducted in person in front of a judge.