Explanation Of The Social Security Disability Application Process
Below is a brief explanation of the process that your Social Security disability claim will follow. This may not be exactly the way your case is reviewed, because all cases are different and certain circumstances are and are not present in every case. But in general here is how a Social Security disability case will proceed.
- Claimant files their case with the Social Security Administration;
- The local Social Security Administration field office will decide if a claimant meets the legal eligibility requirements for SSDI or SSI;
- If the local SSA field office determines the claimant meets the eligibility requirements, the case is transferred to the Disability Determination Services office, where a medical examiner will review the case;
- The medical examiner will determine the severity of the disability or whether it meets the SSA listing. If the medical examiner determines in favor of the claimant then the claim for disability will be approved. If the claimant is a child (disability for children is paid through Supplemental Security Income, SSI) or does not meet the listing the claim is denied;
- If the disability does not meet the listing then the examiner will rate the claimant's residual functional capacity to work;
- If the claimant can do prior or other work, the claim is denied. If the claimant cannot do other work the claim is approved;
- The claimant can request a reconsideration if denied at this point to have the case reviewed by a different medical examiner;
- If again denied, the claimant may appeal before an administrative law judge (ALJ) who will determine if the claimant is disabled;
- If again denied, the claimant can appeal the ALJ ruling to the SSA Appeals Council;
- If again denied, the claimant can appeal to federal district court.
It is not uncommon for a case to go completely through the appeals process. Individuals who try to tackle the Social Security Administration alone often find their cases denied. Individuals who have attorneys representing them through the process succeed much more often and quicker. The statistics speak for themselves. Claimants with an attorney win more often and do little to no work in recovering benefits than claimants filing their cases without an attorney.