Inability to work due to chronic illness or mental condition is considered a disability by the Social Security Administration, and, depending on the case, may qualify you for paid Social Security Disability benefits. In order to qualify, you must prove that you:
- Are unable to work due to your disability, but were previously able to work
- Have suffered from the disability for at least one year, or the condition is expected to last one year, or has been identified as terminal
A medical professional’s use of the word ‘disability’ does not automatically qualify you for SSD benefits, but it can be used as proof of your disability when appealing to the Social Security Administration. If you believe you qualify for a disability under these conditions, follow the next 4 steps to file for disability benefits.
Step #1: Prepare Your Disability Claim
In order for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to approve your disability application, you need to prove that your disability meets the above conditions. Because an SSA employee will be making the judgment call on your claim, the decision is somewhat subjective. That is why it is important to work with an experienced SSD attorney who can help you collect all the documents you’ll need for your disability case, including:
- Healthcare and medical professional information
- Medical test documents with proof of disability
- Job information for all positions affected by the disability
- Last W-2 or tax documents
Step #2: File the Proper Paperwork
As with most federally run programs, the process involves a lot of paperwork. According to the SSA, 2 out of every 3 claims are initially denied due to clerical error, so it is important to minimize any errors when completing the paperwork. Your lawyer can help you complete the necessary documents, and file them with the SSA.
Step #3: Learn if Your Claim Is Accepted or Denied
A claim is typically processed for 3-5 months before a decision is made on approval. During this time, it is important to be patient. Your attorney can check in at the appropriate intervals to make sure the claim is still being reviewed. Whether it is approved or denied, the SSA will notify you of the decision by mail.
Step #4: If Necessary, Appeal the Decision
Due to the high volume of errors that occur during the process, the SSA anticipates applicants’ decisions to appeal. If your claim is denied, they will include information on how to appeal the claim and what additional information is needed. Your attorney can also walk you through the process and personally help you file the appeal within the 60-day time period.
A disability claim can go through multiple levels of appeals. Appealing a denial is referred to as a “reconsideration appeal,” and allows you to submit additional documents should you feel the judgment was incorrect.
If you are further denied, you can file for a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This type of appeal gives you and your lawyer the opportunity to present your case in front of a judge and advocate for SSD benefits.
The final round of approval within the SSA is presenting your case to the Social Security Council. Similar to an ALJ hearing, you will swear under oath and present your disability case to the council for approval.
If you are still denied SSD benefits, you have the ability to appeal the decision in federal court. It may take months to schedule a hearing and present your case, but doing so will give you the opportunity to question the disability qualifications of the SSA and make your case for SSD approval.
Don’t Risk Your SSD Approval – Contact Harbison & Kavanagh Now – (804) 823-2050
The application process for Social Security disability benefits is long and complicated. Without legal help, you can easily make a mistake, and find yourself fighting through the appeal process. At Harbison & Kavanagh, our Richmond Social Security disability attorneys have over 40 years of experience. We are dedicated to helping those inhibited by a medical condition get the compensation they need. Discuss your disability case with us today during a free consultation.
Call us today at (804) 823-2050 to get started on your Social Security disability case.