Want to know how to successfully get through
the social security disability claims process?
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Looking at filing your claim for SSDI benefits, the first question that may come to mind is “How in the world can I possibly get through the social security disability claims process successfully on my own?” Well, it can be done. The first step is to understand the full process; from your initial application all the way through the various appeals process. Your next step is to take a deep breath and know that it could take months before a final decision is made. Also, know that even if your initial application is denied, the fight isn’t over. Most claims are actually won during one of the appeals stages. So, let’s take a look at each of the stages. As usual, there are exceptions to every process and the SSA is no different. After we look at each stage, we’ll discuss the Compassionate Allowance and the Quick Disability Determination, each designed to by-pass the normal system and expedite a decision.
Level 1 – Initial Application
The application to file for social security disability benefits looks fairly simple. Once you complete the application, it is forwarded to a local Disability Determination Services (DDS) Agent who reviews your claim and will make the initial judgement. Unfortunately, 70% of all SSDI claims are declined at this stage for a variety of reasons:
- There are errors in your application
- There are inconsistencies between your application and the medical records the SSA receives in support of your claim
- The DDS Agent doesn’t receive all of the medical records requested
- Your disability isn’t severe enough to last more than 12 months
- The DDS agent can’t contact you because your contact information is inaccurate or you don’t respond.
While the application may look simple, if 70% are declined, there is more to it than meets the eye. If you decide to try filing your initial application by yourself, be thorough and be accurate. You’ll need to provide personal and family information, possible military service records, your work history, detailed medical records (details of your disabling condition, doctors and/or hospital visits and exams, diagnosis, treatments, medications, etc.), and your financial information such as your tax records (W-2s, and tax filings).
If you do not have your medical records to submit with your application, hold off submitting until you get them from your doctor or let your DDS agent know and they will request these records from your doctor’s office(s). If the DDS agent doesn’t receive even some of the requested medical records, your claim will be automatically denied so it is critical that you follow up with your doctors to make sure they send exactly what is requested.
Do not exaggerate your health problems. Your information will be verified by the Disability Determination Services (DDS) Agent. Any false information will result in a quick denial of your claim for Social Security Disability benefits, and this won’t look good during any appeal you file.
Even if you don’t make any of the above mistakes, there is no guarantee that your application will be approved, but at least you’ll be increasing your odds. If you are denied here, you can file an appeal for reconsideration.
If after learning what all is involved just to file your initial application you decide you’d rather let an experienced attorney help you with your case, please call us here at Pinnacle Disability – 888-983-3890. Our team of experts will take the lead and work with you to prepare your initial application for the very best odds of beating the 70% denial rate.
Level 2 – Reconsideration
“Reconsideration” is considered the first appeal. After you receive the denial letter from your Initial Application, you will have 60 days to file this appeal. If you don’t file your reconsideration appeal within the 60-day period, your case will be dropped and you’ll have to start over and file a new Social Security disability claim to re-start the process.
With Reconsideration, your file will be sent to the same DDS office that declined your initial application however, it won’t be reviewed by the same agent, but a different DDS agent and also include a doctor, and possibly a vocational expert.
This is why it makes sense to hire Pinnacle Disability Group. We can make sure the reconsideration of your claim is reviewed properly. We will monitor the reconsideration and respond accurately with any requests made by the DDS office. Remember, there are no up-front costs by hiring us – we only get paid when you win. So don’t hesitate, and call us today. 1-888-983-3890.
Level 3 – Hearing
Even with the best efforts, your appeal for reconsideration can be denied as well. This isn’t the end! This is considered your second appeal, and any prior decision by the DDS office is not considered – your claim has a new life and is presented in court to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
If you don’t have legal representation yet, Pinnacle Disability strongly recommends you do so, because we can make sure your case is expertly prepared with any additional information prior to the hearing and provide a pre-hearing memorandum to the Judge. And because these are legal proceedings we can make sure all of the necessary protocols are followed to ensure a smooth and effective hearing to hopefully be among the 67% of cases that are approved at this stage.
In court, you will present your testimony, as well as any doctors or other related expert witnesses, such as vocational experts. The Judge can and will question all witnesses who are there to support your case and review any additional evidence. Your own disability attorney will have the opportunity to questions all witnesses, even those who may oppose your claim.
Level 4 – Appeals Council
If your case is not approved by an ALJ, we can then ask the Appeals Council to review your case, however the Appeals Council will only take a look at a case if there is reason to believe that errors were made at the prior levels. If they don’t believe any errors were made, then the last stop would be to actually sue the social security administration in Federal Court.
Level 5 – Federal Court Lawsuit
Filing a lawsuit in federal court, takes your claim to a whole new level, and it is very difficult to win, not to mention the costs involved and the years it can take to have your case heard. Here to, the federal court will only review a case if there is evidence to support any errors with prior appeals.
As you can see, the complete application and subsequent appeals process is very involved, requiring patience, diligence, and experience best served by hiring an experienced and successful attorney. Pinnacle Disability has an expert team that can take your case from Initial Application, through the Hearing. We are professionals who know how to navigate the social security disability claims process, and we speak their language, which offers you the best opportunity to win your case!
Call us today at 1-800-593-7491! There is no obligation, and no up-front costs. We only get paid when we win your claim.
In an effort to provide social security disability benefits quickly to those who are in obvious need, the Social Security Administration created a special program called “Compassionate Allowance.” This program is specific to those who suffer from one of the medical conditions listed on the SSA’s Compassionate Allowance Conditions list.
To meet the criteria to be considered for a compassionate allowance, in many cases all you need is a diagnosis, while others require documentation detailing the severity of the patient’s condition. If you feel you may qualify for a Compassionate allowance, please contact us immediately and we can take a look at your case, determine if you might qualify, and begin your Initial Application right away.
Quick Disability Determination
Another process employed by the social security administration to speed up the decision is called a “Quick Disability Determination (QDD).” The QDD process is a program that uses a computer to screen applications to determine if a claimant will more than likely meet the qualification of disability. When your application is flagged as QDD, your case will bypass the traditional review process and is sent to the QDD Group to make a decision.
Both the Compassionate Allowance and the Quick Disability Determination processes are not exclusive to the normal approval process in that if your case is denied for either of these, you can still appeal the decision.
Call 1-888-983-3890 today and we can review your case and begin your initial application or your appeal if your case has already been denied. Your call is free, there is no obligation, and there are no up-front fees. In fact, you don’t pay anything, until you win your case.