Social Security Disability Law: A Beginner’s Guide

The Social Security program, along with disability benefits, has been the subject of an increasing focus in the press and media. People often have questions about the law concerning Social Security, and how it and its associated benefits operate. This is due in no small part to how confusing the laws are surrounding disability and benefit plans.

Many people have pointed out how frustratingly ironic it is that while the Social Security Disability Law was initially created to improve the lives of the disabled, but the seemingly endless red tape and bureaucratic processes that must be followed make the application incredibly challenging.

What Exactly is the Social Security Disability Law

The Social Security Disability Law is a federal law that lays out the rules that dictate who can receive disability benefits from the federal government. If you are determined to meet the requirements, you are then eligible to receive the benefits, and the state in which you live is obligated to meet the requirements needed for your comfort and quality of life.

One of the challenges lies with pursuing the correct benefits, as the criteria for each are different, and failing to meet them will result in rejection or denial of benefits. The two types of benefits are:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance: These benefits require the applicant to prove they have a disability, and that before that they paid into the Social Security System.
  • Social Security Income Program: These benefits require that the applicant is over the age of 65, or be blind, or have a disability, and have low income. These benefits do not require that the applicant prove they paid into the Social Security System prior.

The next hurdle that often poses a significant challenge for some people, is proving the disability. Proving disability is often where people need to work with a disability lawyer that can help you establish your disability in a legally tangible way so that you can get the benefits you deserve.

Applications and Appeals

When considering an application for benefits there is a basic process that must be followed, as well as for disputing a decision you find unfavorable.

First, you’ll submit your initial application to the Social Security Administration, which can be done in several ways including by phone, in person, or online. This is a long procedure that involves submitting much of the documentation needed to establish eligibility. Only about 30% of applicants are approved in this manner. If your case is among the 70% of denials, you can dispute the decision.

This dispute process has four distinct stages, which are:

  • Stage 1 – This is an initial reconsideration that requires you to submit more documentation to support your case, if denied you advance to Stage 2.
  • Stage 2 – Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge, if denied you advance to Stage 3.
  • Stage 3 – Appeal to the appeals council, if denied you advance to Stage 4.
  • Stage 4 – Bring your case before a federal court for a final determination.

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