SSDI Application Process

The application and approval process for Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, can look straightforward and fairly simple at a glance, but in reality, getting approval can be quite difficult without proper preparation.

If you are considering applying for Social Security Disability, you will be required to provide much information about the particulars of your case, as well as fill out all of the required forms and paperwork. Below, we will walk you through the initial steps of your SSD application.

The Application Process

Once you are sure you meet the requirements, and that your disability is severe enough, you will need to fill out the application and provide your documentation.

Stage #1: Initial Application

The first step in the Social Security Disability claim process is to file an application for disability benefits. During the initial stage you will submit your application to the SSA along with all of your medical evidence and supporting documentation outlined in the Blue Book. It can take between 90 to 120 days to complete this stage of the disability claims process. Only 30 percent of Social Security Disability applications will be approved at this stage of the process.

Stage #2: Request for Reconsideration

If your initial application is denied, you have 60 days from the date of denial to file a Request for Reconsideration (Recon). At this stage, your claim is reviewed again by Social Security. If your Recon claim is approved, you will receive disability benefits. If not, three options remain: do nothing, file a new Initial claim, or file a Request for Hearing (recommended).

Stage #3: Hearing

When your Request for Reconsideration is denied, you again have 60 days from the date of your most recent denial to file a Request for Hearing. You have the greatest chance of being approved at this stage. The hearing takes place before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and claimants will receive a Notice of Hearing approximately 30 days before the hearing date. The hearing usually takes place at your local Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). While legal representation is not required for the hearing, it is highly recommended. A qualified disability attorney/advocate can present and defend your case in the most favorable manner. Going to a hearing without adequate representation is not a good idea.

Stage #4: Appeals Council

You will usually receive a decision from the ALJ within a few months after your hearing. If your claim is approved, you will receive both a Notice of Decision and a Notice of Award. If your claim is denied, you can appeal the decision before the Appeals Council. However, the Appeals Council frequently upholds the decision of the ALJ. At this point, you may wish to seek the assistance of a qualified disability attorney/advocate and file a new Initial claim.

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