Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. Attorneys at Law

Stages of a Social Security Benefits Application

Stages of a Social Security Benefits Application

Many people look to the Social Security Administration to file for Social Security Disability Insurance and/or Supplemental Security Income if they become disabled and unable to work. This process begins with your local Social Security Administration Office. Once a person finds that they are unable to work due to a disability, they will need to apply for their benefits.

The process begins with the Disability Determination Service (DDS). They will order your medical records and school/work history based on the information given in your application. That information will be reviewed and a decision will be made regarding your disability. If they decide that you are disabled, you will receive notification of their favorable decision and a notice of award letter advising you of when your benefits will begin. If you are not found disabled, you will receive notice of their unfavorable decision and you can either refile or appeal to the Administrative Law Judge.

If you receive an unfavorable decision from the DDS, you will have sixty (60) days to appeal to the Administrative Law Judge. Once you have appealed, it will take approximately twelve to sixteen months to receive a hearing date in front of a judge. During this time, you will need to continue your medical treatment. Once you have your hearing, it will usually take anywhere from one to four months to receive your decision from the Administrative Law Judge. If they decide that you are disabled, you will receive notification of their favorable decision and a notice of award letter advising you of when your benefits will begin. If you are not found disabled, you will receive notice of their unfavorable decision and you can either refile or appeal to the Appeals Counsel.

If you receive an unfavorable decision from the Administrative Law Judge, you have sixty (60) days to appeal in writing to the Appeals Counsel. Once you have appealed, you may submit a written statement detailing why you disagree with the decision. The Appeals Counsel generally takes anywhere from twelve to twenty four months to rule on an appeal. At this point, the Appeals Counsel will either deny your request for review or send your claim back down to the Administrative Law Judge detailing the errors in their decision and instructing them on how to correct those errors. The Administrative Law Judge will then set another hearing for your claim. If your request for review is denied at the Appeals Counsel, you will receive notice of their denial and you can either refile or appeal to the Federal District Court.

If you receive a notice from the Appeals Counsel denying your request for review, you have sixty (60) days to appeal that denial to the Federal District Court. In order to appeal to the Federal District Court, you must file a complaint naming the Commissioner of Social Security as the defendant. You will need to submit a brief to the Court detailing your arguments. The Federal District Court may take anywhere from twelve to twenty four months to rule on your case.

This is just a brief outline of the Social Security Disability application process. In many cases it is unnecessary to go through all the levels of appeals, but it is best to contact an experienced attorney to guide you through the process. Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. serves the injured and disabled throughout the Gulf Coast area. Contact one of our experienced attorneys today for a free case evaluation at 251-343-1111.

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