How Do I Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?
If you've been hurt or have suffered a disability and cannot work, it is important to understand your options and know how to apply for disability benefits with the Social Security Administration. There are 5 levels in the application process:
1. The Initial Application.
The initial application can be filled out online by clicking here. Be patient while your application is evaluated and realize that almost all of these initial applications are denied. Do not be discouraged, however, because there are additional levels in the application process.
2. The Request for Reconsideration
If your initial claim for benefits is denied, the next step is to file what is known as a "Request for Reconsideration." This typically must be filed within 60 days. The Social Security Administration makes this form available online, and it can be found by clicking here.
Similar to the initial application, many Requests for Reconsideration are denied as well. But don't worry; if your application for disability benefits is denied at this level, you can still move forward to the next step.
3. Request for a Hearing Before an Administrative Law Judge
If your initial application and Request for Reconsideration has been denied, the next step is to request a hearing with an administrative law judge who works for the Social Security Administration. It is at this stage that representation from our office is most valuable because we are experienced in putting cases together to ensure a good possibility of success. But if you are completing this process on your own, the "Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge" form is available by clicking here.
4. Appeal of the Administrative Law Judge's Decision to the Appeals Council
If you have a hearing before an administrative law judge and still lose on your claim for disability benefits, you can appeal the decision to the Appeals Council, which is based near Washington, D.C.. The Social Security Administration provides a lot of information on the appeals process, which can be found by clicking here.
5. Appeal to the Federal District Court
If you appeal your decision to the Appeals Council and lose, then your last option is to appeal directly to a Federal District Court. Before you choose to do this, it is recommended that you first consult with experienced legal counsel because federal rules of procedure and evidence are fairly complex.
Posted on January 7, 2014