The Social Security Disability Application process is a lengthy one and consists of three two levels: Initial Application and Hearing. There are also appeals after the hearing level, but they are less common and less effective than the two main levels.
1) Initial Application
When an individual first applies for Social Security Disability, it is called the Initial level (What all is in the initial application?). It generally takes about 4-6 months to receive a decision back. The Disability Examiner will request medical records and collect evidence based on the information provided in your application (what is provided in an application?). If there is a lack of evidence or clarification is needed, a Consultative Exam (CE) may be scheduled. When the file is complete, or all medical evidence has been processed, a Medical Examiner will make a decision.
2) Hearing Level
If your application was denied at the Initial Level, the next is the Hearing level. Once the Request for Hearing has been filed, the file is sent to the local hearing office. A hearing is then scheduled and the claimant appears before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), who makes a decision based on medical records and testimonies from the claimant and expert witnesses. At this hearing, we would represent you, and present to the ALJ all the medical evidence we have gathered together (What Medical Evidence is Presented to an Administrative Law Judge?). This whole process takes 12-18 months (longer in other states), but has the highest success rate.
What are my chances? Nationwide, 83% of all Social Security Disability claims are approved when represented by an attorney. This drops to 21% when not represented.
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