The Application Process
If you believe you may be entitled to Social Security disability benefits, you may apply, in person, at your local Social Security office, on the internet, or by phone.
Application phase: processing of disability claims usually takes anywhere from 3 to 6 months depending on which California City you live in. The states, in cooperation with the Social Security Administration, assist in the handling of Social Security Disability cases by establishing an office called the Disability Determination Service (DDS) to evaluate and process the disability claims. Once your application is received and process at your local SSA, your SSD/SSI claim will be sent to the Disability Determination Service office. There, your medical records will be ordered and once received will be reviewed. If additional information is required, DDS will order a physical or mental consultative examination (CE Exam). This is where you are sent to see one of the doctors hired by Social Security to evaluate your disability. Finally, a decision will be made as to whether you are disabled under the Social Security law. Your case will be sent back to your local office and a decision will come to you in the mail. At this level, you do not have an opportunity to see a Judge.
It is very common for mistakes to be made both during the application process and by the Social Security Administration. For this reason, it is often critical to the success of your case to hire an attorney as early in the process as possible. It is not uncommon for the SSA to misplace a file or not consider documents that are essential. Additionally, sometimes claimants are so concerned with paying the 25% of their retro-active benefits to an Attorney that they end up being repeatedly denied and what should take a few months ends up taking a couple of years.
A “Denial” is frequently reversed on appeal once an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer becomes involved and submits the necessary documentation to your doctors as well as the social security administration. Remember this is a lawsuit and it shouldn’t be treated lightly because to much is riding on the success of your claim. The disability lawyer you retain can decide what theories work best considering your impairments, age education and work experience.
Once a decision is made, the claimant will receive written notice from the Social Security Administration. If you are “Approved”, the claimant will receive a “Notice of Award,” which shows the benefit amount, which you will receive when payments begin. If you are “Denied”, you will have 60 days from the date on your denial letter to “Appeal” the decision.