If you have ever applied for Social Security disability then you understand how long and frustrating the process can be. At Mountain West Disability, we work with you to ensure Social Security receives all the information they need as quickly as possible. We want to help guide you through the process, answer any questions you might have, and make sure your claim is being expedited as much as possible.
It’s important to us that you understand what is going on with your claim during each phase of the process. This may alleviate some of the frustration you feel from having to wait so long for a decision on your claim. Below we discuss each phase of the process, what’s happening during each phase, and how long it takes to receive a decision.
Application: In order to get a claim started at Social Security, we have to file an application. We send information about your financial situation, work history, and medical history to the Social Security Administration. The fastest way to speed up this process is to provide us with this information as quickly as possible. As soon as we receive this information, we file your application and your claim moves to the Initial phase.
Initial: During the Initial phase, the first thing the District Office will do is confirm that you meet the technical aspects of the approval process. This means they will examine things like your work history, current household income, and assets. Once they verify that you meet the technical aspects of the approval process, they send your claim to the Disability Determination Office (DDS). This is where they determine if you meet the medical aspects of the approval process. At the DDS, they request the medical records from the sources you provided on your application. They review this evidence in order to make a decision on your claim. Typically it takes an average of 4-6 months to receive the first decision on your application. If your claim is denied, we work with you to file an appeal and your claim moves to the Reconsideration phase.
Reconsideration: When we file an appeal, we provide Social Security with updated information such as: “Have your conditions worsened?” “Have you gone back to work?” “Have you been to any new doctors?” “Have you been back to any previous doctors?” “Are you on new medication?” By providing Social Security with this information, they can request updated evidence and review it to possibly make a new decision. Typically it takes Social Security an average of 3-4 months to make a 2nd decision on your application once the appeal is filed. If your claim is denied a 2nd time, we work with you to file an appeal and your claim moves to the Hearing phase.
Hearing: When we file an appeal, we request a hearing before a judge. At a hearing, you will have an opportunity to explain how your conditions prevent you from working, and how they effect your life on a daily basis. Just like before, we provide Social Security with updated information about your conditions. They request the updated evidence and add it to your file. Several months before the hearing, they will organize all the evidence collected on your claim and send our office a copy of your file. We work with you to ensure that all relevant evidence on your claim has been collected. Once the hearing is scheduled, if any evidence is missing, our office requests it in order to complete the file. Once a Request for Hearing is filed, typically it takes 12-16 months to get a hearing date, and most hearings are scheduled 3-6 months out. Social Security has thousands of claims to schedule for a hearing, and they schedule them in the order they are received. Although the wait for a hearing date can be long, we do have most of our success at the hearing level. If your claim is denied by the judge, an appeal can be filed and your claim would be reviewed by the Appeals Council.
Appeals Council: The appeals council typically won’t review additional evidence on your claim. Instead, they review the evidence the Judge had available to determine whether the Judge made a proper decision. This process usually takes 18-24 months. If the Appeals Council believes the Judge made an incorrect decision, they may approve your claim, or send it back to the hearing level and allow it to be heard before a judge again. If the Appeals Council agrees with the Judge’s decision, you do have the option of filing an appeal with the Federal District Court. However, our office does not assist with these types of appeals.
We hope that you find the information above helpful and informative. We understand that your case is unique and that you may have more questions about the process. Please call our office for more information. You have a team of people waiting to assist. 888-765-8644