4 Key Steps in the Social Security Disability Process
If your medical condition is preventing you from working, a monthly Social Security Disability (SSD) check would relieve some of the financial burden you’re under—so you can get on with living.
But first you have to get through an SSD process that is complicated and time consuming. Social Security denies almost 80 percent of initial applications.
You can get help from someone whose full-time job is to understand and work with this process. The Social Security Disability attorneys at Levine Benjamin Law Firm know the Social Security system inside and out.
They can help you at any stage of the process: whether you’re applying for benefits for the first time or appealing a denial.
Having an experienced disability lawyer on your claim can increase your chances of getting approved for benefits in the end.
Our disability attorneys help people throughout Michigan and Ohio. This has been Levine Benjamin’s mission for 60 years.
From Applying to Appealing, We Help You Every Step of the Way.
Here Are the 4 Main Markers in the SSD Process
Step 1: Finding Out if You Qualify for SSDI or SSI Benefits
To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you must:
- Worked long enough, and recently enough, paying into Social Security from your paychecks
- Have a medical condition that meets Social Security’s strict definition of disability
- Be unable to work a substantial amount
If you don’t meet the work history requirements but do meet the medical requirements, you may instead be able to get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, which are based on financial need, not work record.
Step 2: Seeing How Your Health Condition Fits into the Social Security Disability Process
Is your condition covered, and is it severe enough to prevent you from working?
- One place to start is looking up your medical impairment in the Social Security Administration’s official’s Listing of Impairments.
- Even if your condition isn’t on that list, you can show that it significantly limits your ability to do basic work-related activities, such as lifting, standing, walking, sitting, or remembering—for at least 12 months.
Step 3: The SSD Application Process
Now you’re ready to apply for Social Security Disability. The SSD application process involves filling out pages of forms.
And you’ll need to compile documentation that has to go with the application, including:
- Names, addresses, and phone numbers of doctors, case workers, hospitals, and clinics that took care of you and the dates of your visits
- Names and dosages of all the medications you are taking
- Medical records from your doctors, therapists, hospitals, clinics, and caseworkers
- Laboratory and test results
- A summary of where you worked in recent years and the kind of work you did
- Your most recent W-2 form or, if you were self-employed, a copy of your federal tax return
Step 4. The SSDI Appeal Process
After Social Security reviews your application and the information you provided, they may say you don’t meet the qualifications for disability benefits. Like we said, this is extremely common.
If you receive a denial notification, you have the right to ask them to look at your application again—the process from here is the SSI or SSDI appeals process.
And it has its own series of rules, forms, steps, deadlines and levels of appeal.
Social Security Disability Process Timeline: How Long Does All of This Take?
We’ve talked about how involved the SSD process is. It’s also time consuming. Below are typical wait times you can expect at each level.
SSD Application Process:
- Receive a decision within 3-5 months
- If approved, receive your first SSD payment five months after your official date of disability
- If denied, you have 60 days to file a request for reconsideration
SSDI Appeals Process
Note: If your application is denied at any level of appeal, you or your representative must file a written request to go to the next level within 60 days.
- Reconsideration: 3-5 months for a decision
- Hearing by an administrative law judge: Can be 2 years
- Appeals Council Review: 6 months to 2 years
- Federal Court: 12 to 18 months
Regardless of where you are in the Social Security Disability process, you don’t have to go it alone.
All this work we’re describing, you can get a disability lawyer to do it instead.
That makes it easier for you. You don’t have to pay an attorney fee until you win benefits. And you can get closer to a fuller life with less worry about money.
A Social Security attorney from Levine Benjamin Law Firm will help you apply for disability benefits, or appeal a denial.
Our disability lawyers have helped more than 80,000 people win benefits in Detroit, Toledo, Flint, Lansing, Grand Rapids and all around Michigan and Ohio.