What is the process for applying for Social Security benefits if you are disabled?

Now that you have figured out if you should apply for Social Security benefits, you may be asking yourself how do you apply for these benefits. Luckily the process is easy:

  1. Applications for SSI/SSDI/DAC. This can be filed with the help of your attorney, be done online at www.ssa.gov, or be done in person at your local Social Security District Office. The attorneys of the Sellers Law Firm assist clients with the initial application process for most types of Social Security benefits. By allowing us to assist you with the application, the process can go much more smoothly and typical reasons for denial may be avoided.

  2. Reconsideration (not applicable in all states, including Alabama). Reconsideration is a complete review of the claim by a new person. This must be filed within 60 days of the initial decision. If you have used an attorney for the initial application process, you should contact your attorney immediately upon receiving notice of denial for benefits. The attorney will then assist you with the Reconsideration process.

  3. Appeal for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. This appeal must be filed within 60 days of the reconsideration decision (or initial decision if you live in Alabama, Alaska, California (limited to certain areas), Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York (limited to certain areas), and Pennsylvania). Again, if you have used an attorney for either the Initial Application process or the Reconsideration process, you should immediately contact your attorney upon receiving a denial for benefits. Your attorney may assist you in filing your Appeal.

  4. Appeal to the Appeals Council. This step is not advisable in all cases. If your case is denied before the Administrative Law Judge, you should immediately consult with your lawyer or another experienced Social Security lawyer to determine whether or not you should file an appeal to the Appeals Council. SSR 11-1p changed the Social Security process and now requires a claimant to either file an Appeal at the Appeals Council or to file a new Initial Application for benefits, should the claimant wish to continue in his or her attempt to draw benefits. This new rule dictates which cases should be filed to the Appeals Council and which cases should have new applications filed.

  5. Appeal to Federal District Court. If you disagree with the Appeals Council's decision or if the Appeals Council refuses to review your case, you can file a civil suit in federal district court. This is the last level of the appeals process. You may have an Initial Application and an Appeal to Federal District Court pending at the same time. In fact, most attorneys recommend both actions. If a fully favorable decision is issued on the new application, then that decision can be given to the Federal District Court as evidence that you were disabled as of your previous application. If the Federal District Court reverses or remands your case, then that ruling will moot your new application. Consult your attorney as to what steps you should take on filing a Federal District Court appeal.

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