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Social Security Disability Application Process

Social Security Disability ProcessIn order to get disability benefits from Social Security, you must file an application. Applications can be filed online, by telephone, or in person at an SSA field office. The Northern Kentucky field office for the Social Security Administration is located at 7 Youell Street in Florence. The Cincinnati Social Security field office is located at 10205 Reading Road. It is generally best to file applications online, as this is what the Social Security Administration prefers and it eliminates the need to wait in line at a field office or on hold by telephone, both of which can take hours.

Administrative Application Process

1. Initial Application

At Lawrence & Associates, we will do the Social Security Disability (SSDI) initial application for you. You will come into the office and work with one of our experienced staff to input all the required medical and personal information. The application can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half to complete. Once submitted it usually takes between 4 and 6 months to receive an initial determination.

2. Request for Reconsideration

If you receive a denial at the initial application stage, either while being represented by Lawrence & Associates or on your own, we can help you request reconsideration. In order to request reconsideration for your SSDI or SSI application we will submit an online appeal. The appeal can take anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes to complete with the assistance of our experienced staff. Once submitted, it usually takes anywhere from 4 to 6 months to receive a determination on the request for reconsideration.

3. Administrative Law Hearing

If you receive a denial after your request for reconsideration, either while being represented by Lawrence & Associates or on your own, we can help request a hearing and represent you in front of an Administrative Law Judge. When requesting a SSI or SSDI hearing you submit Social Security’s form HA-501 and then you are placed on the hearing wait-list. While waiting for your hearing your attorney will update all of your medical records and draft a brief to the Judge discussing all the legal and medical reasons why you qualify for benefits. The wait-list for a hearing is currently 20 months.

4. Appeals Council Review

If the Administrative Law Judge denies your claim, the last step in the administrative system is to request Appeals Council review. This request is done by submitting Social Security’s form HA-520. The Appeals Council will review the Judge’s opinion for legal or procedural errors and issue a decision. This step is not for everyone, so be sure to contact an experienced attorney, like those at Lawrence & Associates, before requesting this type of review.

5. Suit in Federal Court

If the Appeals Council denies your request for review, the last step is to file a lawsuit in federal court. This must be done within 60 days of the Appeals Council decision. It is important to consult an attorney if you have been denied by the Appeals Council to see if a Federal lawsuit is right for you. Call Lawrence & Associates today to see if your case is ready for Federal Court intervention.

The Sequential Evaluation

At each step, the basic question is whether or not you are disabled. The Social Security Act defines disability as “an inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of medically determinable impairment [or combination of impairments] which can be expected to result in death, or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than twelve consecutive months.” At each step of the disability application process, the Social Security Administration is asking the same questions:

Question 1: Is the claimant performing substantial gainful activity?
Question 2: Is the claimant’s health problem or combination of health problems “severe”?
Question 3: Does the claimant’s impairment meet or equal an impairment listed in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1?
Question 4: Can the claimant perform his “past relevant work”?
Question 5: Can the claimant perform any other work in the national and local economy?

The person filing for disability can be found “disabled” or “not disabled” at any step of the sequential evaluation.

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