SSD Claims Process Lawyer
If you’ve done everything right and received help from an experienced Social Security Disability (SSD) claims attorney, it’s possible your claim for benefits will be among the roughly 30% of applications which are accepted the first time around. If not, you’ll need to understand where to go from there and be ready to persist through a sometimes lengthy process in order to eventually be successful. Below is an outline of the SSD claims process. If you are in the process of applying for benefits initially, or if your initial application was denied, contact the Law Offices of Stephen Barszcz for advice and assistance from an experienced and successful Social Security Disability benefits lawyer.
Apply for Benefits
The first step in applying for benefits is to file a claim online or at your local Social Security Administration (SSA) office. You can meet in person at your local office or provide information over a phone interview. The application includes questions regarding your education, work experience, medical condition and treatment, including medications you may be taking. Keep in mind that incomplete answers can sink an application from the start. Get help at this stage from an experienced SSD attorney for your best chance of success.
A decision on your application can take anywhere from four to five months. During this time, SSA will request medical records from the providers you listed on your application as having seen for treatment. It’s important that your doctors submit complete and accurate records that support your application for SSD eligibility. Frankly, some doctors are better than others at knowing what SSA wants and taking the time to submit the right records. At the Law Offices of Stephen Barszcz, we know what SSA wants and can work with your providers to assist them in providing requested documentation.
While your application is under review, you may be contacted by the Disability Determination Service (DDS) for more information, or you may be scheduled for an appointment to be evaluated by a medical professional. Social Security pays for this exam. This doctor will not treat you or prescribe medication; the sole purpose of this exam is to evaluate you and report findings to DDS. Don’t be misled into thinking of this doctor as your treating physician. The results of this exam can have a significant impact on your claim. Talking to your attorney in advance can help you prepare for this examination so that it helps rather than hurts your application.
If your application is accepted, SSA will calculate your benefits and notify you of your benefits, including back due benefits in some cases. Most of the time, however, the application is denied, and it’s time to consider next steps.
Request a Hearing
A denial is appealed by filing a Request for Hearing and other required paperwork within 65 days of the date the application was denied. Except in very rare cases, a claim will be dismissed if you fail to submit all required paperwork within the required 65-day time frame.
Once the request has been submitted, your claim is transferred to the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) where it is assigned to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Depending upon the ALJ’s caseload, it may be 13 or 14 months before the hearing actually occurs. In the case of a terminal illness or other emergency situation like an impending eviction or foreclosure, it may be possible to have the hearing moved up, so be sure and stay in touch with us regarding your personal circumstances.
As it was during your initial application period, SSA may send you for an evaluation by a doctor in preparation for the hearing. These evaluations are paid for by the SSA, and you should attend all evaluations and cooperate with the physician during these appointments.
Once the date finally arrives, the hearing itself will likely only last about 30 to 45 minutes. We’ll get a copy of your file from ODAR prior to the hearing and carefully review it. We’ll also meet with you personally to discuss matters related to the upcoming hearing so that we will be thoroughly prepared and you will know what to expect as well.
After the hearing, the ALJ issues a written decision setting out the judge’s finding that you are disabled or not disabled, along with the judge’s reasons underlying the decision. Expect a decision within a month or two, although it may take longer depending upon the particular judge and other circumstances surrounding your case.
If you receive an Unfavorable Decision based on a finding that you are not disabled, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of filing an appeal of the ALJ’s decision. If we believe an appeal may be successful, we’ll provide you with the paperwork needed for us to pursue an appeal on your behalf. Appeals are filed with the Appeals Council, located in Falls Church, Virginia. A decision on the appeal should be forthcoming within about a year after it is filed. While your appeal is pending, you can and should continue to receive your regular medical care, and inform us if there are any changes regarding your condition, if you switch doctors, or if any other changes occur regarding your treatment.
Let Stephen Barszcz Help You on the Path to Social Security Disability Benefits
The road to SSD benefits may seem long or treacherous, but with the right attorney guiding you along, you can find your way to a successful result. SSD lawyer Stephen Barszcz has helped countless people like yourself obtain Social Security Disability, and he can help you too. Call the Law Offices of Stephen Barszcz at 877-655-2667 for a free consultation on your initial application or claim denial.