This blog begins a set of blogs which will detail the process of filing for Social Security disability and what happens if you are denied. The blogs will cover the 4 different stages of the Social Security disability process and what happens at each stage. The 4 stages are as follows: 1) Initial, 2) Reconsideration, 3) Hearing, and 4) Appeals Council.
The initial stage begins by filing an application with the Social Security Administration. An application can be filed online once you have created a My SSA account, in person by going to your local Social Security office, or by calling your local Social Security office. The application is then processed to make sure you meet Social Security’s non-disability requirements, which may include age, employment, marital status, or Social Security coverage information. In order to qualify for Social Security disability, you must be “insured” which means you must have worked 5 out of the last 10 years and paid FICA taxes. Those who have not worked or paid into Social Security must undergo an additional interview process to determine if they are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI is based on a person’s household income. In order to qualify for SSI, any income or assets must be under the federal income limit.
After meeting the non-disability requirements, your claim is then sent to the Disability Determination Services (DDS). DDS is the State agency responsible for developing medical evidence and making the initial determination on whether or not a claimant is disabled or blind under the law. DDS will obtain medical records from your own physicians or any other medical facility where you have received treatment. If that evidence is insufficient to make a determination, DDS may send a claimant on a consultative examination where he or she will be evaluated by an independent doctor who is hired by Social Security and used to perform medical evaluations. DDS will also send you a set of forms called Function Reports which are used to get a sense of your activities of daily living. DDS will also need to know what kind of work you have performed over the last 15 years.
After having gathered all of the above listed information, State agency physicians will assign physical and/or mental limitations that would occur as a result of your medical impairments such as a limitation in your ability to sit, stand, walk, interact with others, or handle work pressure. These limitations are then used to determine if you meet Social Security’s definition of disability. If you are approved, you will receive a Notice of Award detailing the amount you will receive in back pay as well as what you will receive each month going forward. If you are denied, you will receive a denial in the mail which states you have 60 days to file an appeal. That appeal is called a Request for Reconsideration. Reconsideration, the 2nd stage in the Social Security disability process, will be covered in the next blog.
For more information on the Social Security Disability process, contact an experienced Social Security disability attorney at Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. today at 251-343-1111 for a free case evaluation. Gardberg & Kemmerly, P.C. represents Social Security disability claimants in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and Louisiana at all levels of the disability process from initial application to appeals to Federal Court.