When you are filing for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, here are some good things to keep in mind while going through the process:
1. Be patient
Filing for SSD benefits involves a sometimes lengthy administrative process. A claim is filed by contacting the Social Security Administration (SSA), which may be done online, over the telephone, or in person at your local SSA office. The SSA representative will ask you for information about when you became disabled, your work history and, most importantly, the medical and/or mental health conditions that prevent you from working. It is very important that this information be complete and accurate, so that SSA can thoroughly evaluate your claim. Once the SSA has obtained this information, it will transfer your claim to the Bureau of Disability Determination, an agency of the State of Ohio, which will actually process your claim, using SSA’s rules and regulations for evaluating disability.
In considering your claim, the state agency will contact your doctors and other medical providers, and gather all of the medical evidence pertaining to your disabling conditions. The agency may send you to a doctor for an examination, at its expense, in order to get a better picture of your medical condition. The agency may also contact you or your representative for additional information.
Once the agency has gathered all the evidence, your claim will be reviewed by a doctor selected by the agency, who will determine the severity of your medical conditions, how they may limit your ability to function in a work setting, and whether they meet the SSA definition of disability. Your claim will then be returned to the SSA, who will send you a written decision. At the initial level, this process usually takes about six months. If the SSA finds you disabled, they will then process payment of your benefits.
2. Prepare for denial
On average, SSA approves about 30% of initial applications, which means 70% are denied. If your claim is denied, you have the right to appeal. This is called requesting a reconsideration. At this level, SSA and the state agency will obtain updated medical evidence, review your claim again, and make a new decision. This process usually takes three to six months. If SSA finds you disabled at this level, they will notify you and process your benefits.
If your claim is denied at the reconsideration level, you have the right to request a hearing. At the hearing level, you will have the opportunity to appear and testify at an informal hearing before an administrative law judge. Your representative will make sure all the evidence is up to date, and will present your claim to the judge, making arguments on your behalf. The judge does not have to follow the earlier decisions that denied your claim, but will make a brand new decision after considering the medical evidence, your testimony, and the arguments of your representative. Because of the large backlog of claims at the hearing level, it usually takes about nine to twelve months for a hearing to be scheduled.
3. Be thorough and consistent
When filing for disability benefits, it is very important to be in treatment for all of your medical and/or mental health conditions, so that they can be documented on your claim. It is also vital that SSA be kept informed of any changes in your medical condition or treatment, so that they will have complete and accurate information when evaluating your claim. Your attorney representative can help you make sure SSA has all the information they need at all stages of the claim, and can help present your claim in a way that will maximize your chance of success.
Let the attorneys at Arenstein & Andersen Co. LPA help you get the assistance you need in order for your social security disability claim to be handled competently and professionally.
Arenstein & Andersen Co., LPA, located in Dublin, Ohio, has experience with a wide array of disability claims. The attorneys at Arenstein & Andersen Co., LPA are able to provide experienced legal advice and provide assistance with social security disability, supplemental security income, and workers’ compensation claims to help disabled and injured clients navigate the complicated rules and laws currently in place in the United States Social Security system and in Ohio’s workers’ compensation system.