Who Decides Whether You Receive Social Security Disability?
The Social Security Disability application process can feel mysterious and deeply impersonal. But it is about your life and shapes your future. Understanding the process can help you feel more empowered.
Initial Application: The initial application process begins when you file your application with Social Security. You can make this application at your local office in person, by appointment over the telephone, or online. There are two stages to the initial application review.
Stage One: Technical Review. The local office considers whether your claim meets technical requirements. Rejections occur at this stage if applicants don’t meet financial or work length requirements. If your application is denied because the field office evaluated your income incorrectly or you were missing paperwork, you can appeal. Otherwise, an appeal is unlikely.
Stage Two: Medical Review. If you pass stage one, the local office then sends your application to a state-level office, usually an agency called the Disability Determination Offices. A claims examiner will review your medical records and evaluate whether you qualify as disabled under Social Security’s rules.
Reconsideration: If your initial application is denied, you have sixty (60) days to file an appeal of that decision. Your medical records again will be reviewed by a different individual at the Disability Determination Services, and a second decision will be issued as to whether you are disabled under Social Security’s rules.
Request for Hearing: If, after the first two medical reviews, you’re found not disabled, you can appeal to an administrative law judge. This appeal also must be filed within sixty (60) days of the reconsideration decision. The judge conducts a hearing where you or your representative can discuss your case and the rationale for your application. A vocational expert usually testifies as to why he or she believes there is a job you can perform that disqualifies you from benefits. Getting a hearing and completing the process generally takes a little over a year.
The South Carolina disabilities benefits attorneys at Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C., help disabled workers obtain Social Security Disability. Contact us today for legal advice about your claim.