31 Aug Stages of the Social Security Disability Process
It is important to understand the Social Security Disability process prior to filing an application. With this knowledge, the claimant will be prepared for each step and will have no uncertainties about what’s to come. While some individuals are approved at the initial level, others must continue with appeals. Here is what you’ll need to know to be ready for the Social Security Disability process:
Stage 1: Initial
The initial application stage involves applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). You may complete the application on your own, or, you can hire an Attorney to assist you. The application is quite lengthy, approximately 20 pages. This includes personal information, medical evidence, work history, and supporting documentation. The application will take 3 to 6 months to be processed once it has been submitted to the Social Security Administration (SSA). It is important to note that roughly 75% of claimants are denied at this level.
Stage 2: Reconsideration
If the claimant’s initial application is denied, his/her case may be appealed and move on to Reconsideration. During this stage, the SSA will collect more records (if they are alerted to the existence of new records) and review the case. This review generally takes between one to five months. The Reconsideration level is only used in 40 U.S. states.
Stage 3: Hearing
Upon denial at the Reconsideration stage, claimants can then request a hearing. This step of the process is the lengthiest, taking upwards of 18-24 months. The claimant will be notified of the time, date, and place of the hearing about one month to six weeks prior. The claimant and/or Attorney should use this time to gather evidence and prepare for the hearing. Although it is possible to represent oneself at the hearing level, Attorney assistance is highly advised. Research suggests that applicants represented by a disability Attorney or advocate are 50% more likely to have their claim approved.
Stage 4: Decision
Some judges will make a decision at the hearing while other judges will take 6 to 8 weeks to decide. The applicant will receive a written decision regardless. Included will be the reasoning behind the decision. The claimant will begin the process of being “placed in pay” if the claim is approved. Monthly benefits will commence in 6-12 weeks. The retroactive backpay may take slightly longer, averaging several months.