The Social Security disability process is deceptively simple, for actually getting approved can prove challenging. The Social Security Administration has established a set of guidelines to facilitate determinations, but the result is that applicants must deal with complexities and bureaucratic red tape. You may find that it is in your best interests to work with a Phoenix SSD lawyer who understands the process. Here are some frequently asked questions.
How Do I Know Whether I Am Disabled Enough?
Social Security disability is based upon ability to work. You may be eligible for benefits if your impairment prevents you from being able to work for a period of at least twelve months. As your Phoenix SSD lawyer will tell you, however, age is a factor as well. Those who are under age 45, for instance, will have a more difficult time qualifying than those who are 45 and older.
What Is the Sequential Evaluation Process?
The sequential evaluation process is the five-step evaluation that the Social Security Administration uses to determine whether your medical issues warrant participation in the SSD program. Your Phoenix SSD attorney can help you determine whether you are likely to be deemed eligible, but the five steps consist of the following:
• You are not working, which described by the SSA as “substantial gainful activity” (SGA);
• You have an impairment that is severe and can be evaluated medically;
• Your impairment falls under the SSA’s Listing of Impairments;
• You are unable to perform work you were able to do in the past;
• You are unable to work in another job that exists in significant numbers given such factors as age, education, and residual functional capacity.
As your Phoenix SSD lawyer will tell you, it is vital you understand that this process is sequential. That is, if you are found ineligible at any of the steps, the evaluation process ends there—your claim is denied.
How Do I Apply?
To apply for Social Security disability benefits, you will have to fill out a written application that inquires into your work history and medical impairment. A Social Security disability lawyer can help you begin the process of applying. Once you decide to apply for benefits, you have three options, which are explained in this video.
You are not required to work with a Phoenix SSD attorney in order to apply for the program, and you may, indeed, find that it is not necessary to do so at all unless your claim is denied. You can obtain an application online or at a local Social Security Administration office, and you may submit it either by phone, through the SSA’s website or in person. It is important that you remember to complete all sections of your application and add the Adult Disability Report and Disclosure Authorization Form.
What Mistakes Do Applicants Make Most Often?
Your Phoenix SSD lawyer has seen many types of errors that can be costly to applicants. However, probably the two biggest mistakes claimants make are failure to seek all the medical care they need to get better and to give up when they are denied rather than appeal.
What Should I Do if My Claim Is Denied?
A Phoenix SSD lawyer will be able to tell you whether your claim is likely to win on appeal, but, in most cases, you should file quickly. The statute of limitations is 60 days at each stage of the appeals process, so promptness is of paramount importance. The appeals process works as follows:
1. The first step is reconsideration. Another team will evaluate your application, but don’t be surprised if you are denied again at this stage.
2. The second stage is the hearing before an administrative law judge. If you haven’t done so already, you should hire a Phoenix SSD lawyer to be present with you at the hearing. This is the step where most applicants who are denied are most likely to gain approval.
3. The third appeal is before the Appeals Council.
4. If you exhaust all other options, you may appeal in Federal Court. You do this by filing a lawsuit against the SSA in a U.S. District Court.
A Phoenix SSD Attorney May Be Able to Help
If you are applying for Social Security disability, you may need to work with a Phoenix SSD lawyer at some point, particularly if your claim is initially denied. Call Schiffman Law Office, P.C. today at (602) 235-0539.