How to File a Social Security Disability Application
You have multiple options for filing an SSDI application. The Social Security Administration (SSA) recommends filing online and treats the online application as the default method. Here are a few reasons you may want to use the online application process:
You can apply any time it’s convenient for you, rather than having to wait for an appointment and then apply during business hours
The SSA says that online applications are typically processed more quickly than other application types
You can stop and start the online application, meaning that the process won’t be derailed if you’re missing some information
With the average wait time for an initial determination crossing the 7-month mark in February of 2023, it makes sense to take the most efficient route possible. However, if you can’t apply online or just don’t want to, you have other options.
Alternative Ways to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits
Apply at Your Local Social Security Office
You can apply for disability benefits in person. One advantage to this approach is that you’ll have an SSA staff member available to answer questions or provide other assistance. You can find your local office through the SSA’s field office locator tool.
If you choose to apply in person, be sure to call ahead for an appointment. And, make sure you have all of the required information gathered.
Apply by Phone
Applying by phone is similar to applying at your local office. You’ll have an SSA representative to assist you, and they’ll ask you questions to collect the information you would fill in when completing the application. The SSA offers a starter kit to help you prepare to complete your application and interview, whether you apply online, by phone, or in person.
Need Help with Your SSDI Application?
Most Social Security disability benefits applications are initially denied. You can improve your chances of being among those applications approved in the first round by ensuring that your application is completed properly and that you have provided adequate supporting documentation to fully establish your claim. Working with an experienced disability benefits advocate can help ensure that you put together the best application possible. To learn more about how Disability Help Group can help, call (800) 800-3332 right now, or fill out the contact form on this site.
The Social Security Administration’s “appeal under review” update in the Social Security disability (SSDI) appeals process can be perplexing. The notification advises you that a decision has been made. You read all of the information you can find carefully, and it contains no clues about what that decision may be.
You’re not missing anything. You won’t be advised of the decision until the review is complete. Many SSDI applicants think “under review” sounds negative, or just worry about why they’re seeing this update and what they should do. Here’s what you need to know if you receive an “appeal under review” letter or see that status.
What Does “Appeal Under Review” Tell You?
The short answer is that seeing “appeal under review” doesn’t tell you anything especially useful about your case. It means that a medical decision has been made, but that decision could be positive or negative. It tells you that the SSA has assigned someone to review certain elements of your claim. But, that’s not necessarily a problem for you. It’s just a step in some SSDI appeals.
In other words, you don’t know anything more about the outcome of your case than you did before the status update, except that the process is nearing an end. For better or worse, there’s generally nothing to do but wait. If and when your claim is approved, you’ll be clearly notified. If your claim is denied, you’ll be notified and have an opportunity to take the next step in the process.
What if the Appeal is Denied?
The appeals process is a multi-step one, so if you receive a denial after the review is complete, you still have options. The hearing before the administrative law judge (ALJ) is one of the last steps in the process, but it’s not the end of the road. The next step is to request a review by the Appeals Council. Unlike the other steps in the process, there’s no right to this review–the Appeals Council decides whether or not to take up the case.
If they pass or rule against you, the final step is the federal district court. That is a much more complex process that is best attempted with the help of an experienced disability lawyer.
How a Social Security Disability Advocate Can Help
Most SSDI claims are initially denied, and it can take months or years to work your way through the appeals process and secure benefits. That means it’s especially important to construct a strong application with thorough documentation and to keep the process moving forward if you have to appeal.
At Disability Help Group, we can assist at any stage of the process, from initial application through the Appeals Council review. To learn more about how we can help, contact us here or call (800) 800-3332. Generally, the earlier in the process you get help, the better.
What You Need to Know: Widows Benefits and Social Security Disability
When you qualify for two types of Social Security benefits, such as widows benefits and Social Security disability (SSDI), you may be unsure which to pursue or how they might work together.
Understanding the Two Types of Benefits
Widows benefits, technically known as survivors’ benefits, are available to certain dependents of a deceased worker who earned Social Security benefits. The widow or widower of a qualified worker is entitled to Social Security survivors’ benefits if:
The surviving spouse has reached full retirement age (reduced benefits are available at age 60),
The surviving spouse is at least 50 and has a disability,
The surviving spouse is caring for a child or children of the deceased who are under the age of 16 and receiving Social Security benefits, or
The surviving spouse is caring for a child of the deceased who is disabled and receiving Social Security benefits
A divorced spouse of a deceased worker may qualify for benefits under the same conditions if the marriage lasted at least 10 years. The 10-year requirement is not imposed if the former spouse is caring for children of the deceased as described above.
Social Security Disability Benefits
SSDI benefits are payable to qualified workers who are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity due to a disability that is expected to last at least one year or be fatal. To qualify for SSDI, you must have accumulated a sufficient number of work credits, including a certain number of recent credits. The exact number depends on your age when you became disabled.
Can You Get Both SSDI and Widows Benefits?
You may qualify for both disability benefits and widows benefits. But, you can’t get the full amount of both benefits. Instead, your monthly benefit will be capped at the higher of the two amounts. Here’s how it works:
Imagine that you are receiving $1,350/month in Social Security disability benefits when your spouse passes away and you become qualified for survivors’ benefits. You qualify for $1,900 in survivors’ benefits, but you won’t receive that full amount. Instead, you will continue to receive your $1,350 in disability benefits and will receive an additional $550/month in widows benefits to bring you up to the amount of the higher benefit.
Need Help Getting Social Security Disability Benefits?
SSDI benefits provide a crucial source of support for workers who become disabled. But, unfortunately, most claims are initially denied. Working with an experienced disability benefits advocate from the beginning can help avoid common missteps that can delay your claim or lead to denial.
What You Need To Know About Your Disability Benefits Denial
One of the most common questions about Social Security disability benefits is “How long will the process take?” Since most SSDI applicants are denied at the initial application stage, answering that question requires an understanding of the appeals process and how long it takes to move through each stage.
Here’s a rough timeline for SSDI appeals.
The first step in the appeals process is to request reconsideration. This is by far the quickest step. The Social Security Administration (SSA) says it typically takes one to three months to get a ruling on your request for reconsideration. Note, though, that this represents actual time from filing the request to decision. You have 60 days from the denial of your application to request reconsideration. So, the actual time between receiving your denial notice and receiving a decision on your request for reconsideration of disability benefits could be one to five months, depending on how quickly you file. In some cases, it may take longer.
The SSA says it typically takes three to five months to receive a decision on your initial disability benefits application. Many applicants report that it actually takes a bit longer. So, depending on how long you take to request reconsideration and how long it takes to receive a response, you may get a ruling on your request for reconsideration at any time between six months from your original application date to 10 months or more.
The second step is a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). Again, you have 60 days after receiving a decision on your request for reconsideration to request this hearing. The time between requesting this hearing and the hearing date ranges between several months and two years or more. And, that’s just how long you’ll wait for the hearing. A decision from the ALJ may arrive a few weeks or a few months after the hearing.
Depending on how quickly you request a hearing, where you live, and how long it takes the ALJ to make a decision, the time from denial on reconsideration and a determination from the ALJ could be about 10 months or more than two years. For most applicants, it will be more than a year. Add in the time it took to reach this stage and the ALJ decision may come between roughly 18 months and three years after the initial application.
The next step is to request review by the Appeals Council. Sometimes this step is quick, because the Appeals Council declines to review most cases. If the Appeals Council does take up your case, that process may take months or years.
If you get an unfavorable ruling from the Appeals Council or they decline to consider your case, the next step is to file suit in federal court. That is also a long and complicated process.
A Social Security Disability Benefits Advocate Can Help
Because the SSDI appeals process takes so long–and many applicants for disability benefits can’t afford to wait–it’s very important to present the strongest possible application and to take full advantage of the opportunity to present evidence at every stage of the appeal. So, the earlier you get knowledgeable guidance, the better. Contact us or call (800) 800-2009 to learn more about how our experienced disability advocates can help.
If you’ve been denied Social Security disability benefits, you’re in good company. Most people who apply for SSDI are denied at first. Fortunately, a great many of those who stick it out and pursue the appeals process are ultimately approved.
The question of how many times you can go through the appeals process is a bit misleading, as it seems to suggest that you can repeat the process. In fact, there are multiple opportunities within the process, but you only get one chance at each. Here’s how the process goes.
Social Security Disability Appeals Process:
When you’ve been denied SSDI benefits, you can take the following steps:
Request reconsideration – this is a review of your application and supporting documents by the same section that initially denied your claim. A different decision-maker makes the determination, and you can submit additional information.
Request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) – if your claim is still denied on reconsideration, you can request a hearing. This is a more fully-developed appeal, where you can present witnesses and additional medical information to the decision-maker.
Request review by the Appeals Council – if the ALJ finds against you, you may request Appeals Council review. However, a Council hearing isn’t guaranteed. Only a small percentage of requests are scheduled for a hearing.
File a petition in federal district court – once you’ve exhausted every administrative possibility, you can file a civil suit in federal district court. This is the final step for most applicants whose claims have not been approved at an earlier stage.
Appeal the federal district court’s decision – some applicants who lose in federal court can file an appeal. However, this process requires specific grounds, and this option isn’t available to everyone.
So, in short, there are five possible stages of appeal after an SSDI denial. However, the ALJ hearing has the highest approval rate. That means most applicants never reach the later stages.
An applicant who has been denied disability benefits can apply all over again. Whether or not that is a good idea depends on a variety of factors, including the reason for the denial, how far you got in the appeals process, how much time has passed, and whether there have been changes in your medical condition since you last submitted information to the SSA in connection with your disability claim. Generally, it is better to continue along the appeals process than to reapply, for a variety of reasons. So, it’s essential to talk to a Social Security disability advocate to determine the best avenue to take.
To learn more about how Disability Help Group can help you, contact us or call (800) 800-2009 right now.
Most Common Conditions that Qualify for Long-Term Disability Benefits
The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides only long-term disability benefits. That means that the disabling condition must either have lasted or be expected to last for at least one year or to be expected to end in death. SSA provides a listing of disabling conditions and the criteria someone suffering from those conditions must meet in order to qualify for Social Security disability (SSDI) in the Social Security Blue Book.
The Blue Book isn’t a complete listing of medical conditions that may qualify a person for SSDI, though. You may be eligible for disability benefits based on a combination of conditions. And, some conditions are far more common among SSDI recipients than others.
The Five Most Common Conditions Leading to SSDI Awards
According to the SSA, the most common conditions leading to a Social Security disability benefits award in 2021 were:
Musculoskeletal system and connective tissue disorders (36.2%)
Neoplasms, or abnormal masses of tissue, which may or may not be cancerous (12.6%)
Mental disorders (12.1%)
Circulatory system issues (10.9%)
Diseases of the nervous system and sense organs (9.4%)
Within each category, some disorders are far more common than others. For instance, though the Blue Book lists several mental disorders, depression, bipolar disorder and related conditions made up more than ⅓ of mental disorder awards in 2021.
Just 18.8% of disabled worker awards in 2021 fell outside the five categories listed above. This balance has shifted over time. For example, in 1996, just 20.6% of those receiving SSDI benefits were receiving benefits for musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders. Across the next 25 years, that share increased from about ⅕ to more than ⅓.
What if My Condition Doesn’t Fall Into One of These Categories?
First, don’t worry! 18.8% seems like a small share for all other medical conditions, but in 2021 that 18.8% amounted to more than 100,000 disabled workers receiving new Social Security disability benefits awards. It’s also possible that your condition does fall into one of the most common categories and you just don’t recognize its technical classification. For example, before reading this post you may not have realized that cancer would be classified as “neoplasms.” Whether you are uncertain about qualifying for disability benefits or have applied for SSDI and been denied, Disability Help Group is here for you. To learn more about how we can help, call (800) 800-3332 right now, or fill out the contact form on this site.