What is the process of applying for Social Security Disability?
The application is a two-step process beginning with the initial application. Be prepared to state when you became disabled, the medical reason for your disability, and the names, telephone numbers, and addresses of your doctors. The applicant may choose to complete the process independently or seek guidance with an attorney. An attorney cannot generally speed up the process but can ensure that each step is made timely and that the necessary documentation is on file. Otherwise the application process can become aborted, requiring the applicant to start over and wasting valuable time.
The application for Social Security Disability should be taken very seriously by all concerned. First the applicant should be sure that he or she is not able to obtain and to hold a job. Disability is not as good as working. Any job is better than disability. But once the determination to apply is made, then resolve to go the distance with your Representative and see the process through to completion.
Step 1: Initial Application
The first step is to complete the written application at the Social Security Administration office in person, by phone, or online.
To look up the closest SSA district office to you, visit https://secure.ssa.gov/apps6z/FOLO/Controller
Social Security Administration Toll Free Phone Number: 1-800-772-1213
Online Application: http://www.ssa.gov/pgm/getservices-apply.htm
The District Office will assign a certain date and time and call the applicant for a telephone interview. Telephone applications must be followed up by a signed written application. It usually takes two or three months to receive a reply. If the initial application is denied the applicant may request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge in Pennsylvania.
Step 2: Request for Hearing
The second and most important step is the hearing. Each applicant has the right to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. You and your attorney should take full advantage of this step to present your case. There are numerous rules of decision that the judges follow and it is critical that your claim has been prepared well in advance of the hearing and that your attorney is very familiar with the process.
Unfavorable decisions by the Administrative Law Judge can be appealed to another step within the Administration, and then to federal court, if necessary.