If you have ever applied for Social Security disability, you understand how long and frustrating the process is. Here at Mountain West Disability, we want to ensure Social Security receives the accurate information they need for your claim, and that they receive it as quickly 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 for a decision to be made on your claim. Below, we discuss what happens in each phase of the process, and how long it takes to receive a decision.
The SSD Claim Process:
Social Security Disability Applications:
If we are able to start a claim for you, we take care of filing an application online on your behalf. We gather and send general background information, work history information, and medical history information. After we file your application, your claim moves to the Initial phase.
During the Initial phase, the Field Office will determine if you meet the technical aspects for a claim. This means they will examine your work history, current household income, and your assets. Once they verify that your claim meets the technical requirements, they send your claim to Disability Determination Services (DDS). This is where they determine if you meet the medical requirements. At 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.
When we file an appeal, we provide Social Security with updated information regarding your medical conditions. We inform them of any new conditions you have been diagnosed with, any changes to your current conditions, and recent visits you have made to your doctor; we gather this information from you for the appeal. Once Social Security has this information, they can request updated evidence and make another decision. Typically it takes Social Security an average of 3-4 months to make a second decision on your claim. If your claim is denied a second time, we work with you to file an appeal, and your claim moves to the Hearing phase.
When we file a second appeal, we request a hearing before a judge. At the hearing, you will be represented by our disability attorney. Just as in previous stages, we provide Social Security with updated information about your conditions. We work with you to ensure all relevant evidence on your claim has been collected. Once the hearing is scheduled, if any medical evidence is missing, our office requests it in order to complete the file. Once a Request for Hearing is filed, it typically takes 18-20 months to get a hearing scheduled, 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, a hearing is the best chance for approval. If your claim is denied by the judge, our disability attorney will review your claim to see if we should appeal the decision again, or if we should start a new claim (if possible).
Social Security Disability Appeals Council:
The appeals council won’t review new 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 will send it back to the hearing office, who will schedule another hearing before the same judge. 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 you find the information above helpful and informative. Remember that each case is unique. If you have additional questions, please call our office. You have a team of people waiting to assist you.