Steps of the Social Security Disability Application ProcessIf you are considering applying for Social Security disability or if you have already been denied benefits, then you need information. While you have the right to apply for benefits or to file an appeal on your own, the Social Security disability paperwork and procedures can be daunting. Additionally, your chances for approval of benefits are greater if you have a Social Security disability attorney by your side. At Keefe Disability Law we have been helping people apply for Social Security disability for more than two decades. If you have a claim, then we want to help you.

How to Get the Social Security Disability Benefits You Deserve

If you have a permanent disability and you are unable to work, then it is important to:

  • Talk with your doctor. Your primary care physician is going to be the one who backs up your claim that you are not physically or mentally capable of working at any job for at least 12 months. The word "any" is important here. Just because you might not be able to perform the tasks at your current position does not automatically make you eligible for Social Security disability. For example, you might be quite capable of taking on a new light duty job that allows you to sit down during your shift. Having open and frequent discussions with your doctor about your situation will help you determine whether or not you should apply for benefits.

  • Apply for benefits with the Social Security Administration. There are four ways to do this: you can call Keefe Disability Law for professional help with your application: you can visit your local Social Security Administration office, you can apply online by following the steps outlined on the Social Security Administration website, or you can call the Social Security Administration.

  • Allow the Social Security Administration to evaluate your application. Your application will be reviewed by a disability examiner from your state’s disability agency, usually called Disability Determination Services (DDS). The examiner will request medical records, gather information about how your medical condition affects your daily life, confer with medical specialists, schedule an appointment for you to be evaluated by a medical specialist if your condition is not properly documented, and decide your eligibility for Social Security disability benefits.

Unfortunately, most people are denied the first time they apply for Social Security disability. Often the denial has little to do with whether a person is actually eligible for benefits. Instead, it usually has more to do with the material supporting the application. If you are denied disability benefits, don’t give up.

Understanding the Appeals Process Is Important

Even if you are still at the stage where you are filing your initial application for Social Security disability benefits, it is important to know what to expect if you have to file an appeal.

There are four steps in the appeals process and they must be completed in order, as follows:

  • Reconsideration. This is where the applicant asks the Social Security Administration to reconsider an application for Social Security disability. It can be done online or via mail by submitting the Request for Reconsideration form. A different person will make the determination from the previous determination, and the result will be sent to you by mail.

  • Hearing. A Request for Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge and an Appeal Disability Report can only be filed after a reconsideration denial (or after an initial denial in New Hampshire), and the forms can also be submitted online. You can either opt to meet with the judge face-to-face or have the judge make the decision without you present. After speaking with you and your attorney, the judge will notify you of his decision in writing.

  • Appeals Council Review. If you are denied by the judge at the hearing stage, you may fill out the Request for Review of the Decision/Order of Administrative Law Judge form, sign it, and send it to your local Social Security Office. They will then send it to the central Office of Disability Adjudication and Review in Virginia. That office will review the form and your records and send you their determination in writing.

  • United States District Court Case. This is the final step where your attorney could file a case against the Social Security Administration.

We invite you to learn more about your rights by ordering a free copy of our book, 7 Costly Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Social Security Disability Claim.

Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Boston, MA?

If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 508.283.5500 to schedule your free consultation.


John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer