If you are facing a disability due to injury or illness, you may be entitled to financial assistance from the Government. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is a federal agency which administers the Disability Benefits Program (DBI). This program provides for cash benefits to people who are suffering from a disability that is expected to last more than one year or that could result in death. People who do not qualify for full disability benefits because they do not have sufficient work credit may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
How do I apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?
Applicants for social security disability benefits face a three-step process. At each stage, your claim may be granted and benefits paid out. If benefits are denied, you may move on to the next step.
Step One: Initial Application
Each applicant must file an initial application with the Social Security Administration. In this application, you will provide the SSA with information about yourself and your disability such as your work history, the name and contact information of your treating physicians, and any medications you take.
Step two: Reconsideration
If your initial application is denied, you may request that the SSA reconsider your application. You or your Social Security disability attorney may revise and supplement your application at this time. Once your application is resubmitted, your claim will be freshly reviewed.
Step three: Administrative Hearing
If the SSA denies your claim again after your request for reconsideration, you have the right to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This is a critical stage in the process not only because it allows you and your attorney to make your case directly to a judge, but because the vast majority of initial applications and reconsiderations are denied. Therefore, thorough preparation and careful advocacy are extremely important in making the strongest argument possible.
Step four: Appeals Council
If the Administrative Law Judge denies your claim at the hearing level, you may submit a request for a review of the ALJ’s decision to the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council may either overturn the ALJ’s decision and grant you a new hearing, or deny your request for review. If the Appeals Council denies your request for review, then you have the option of appealing your case in federal court.
Do I need a Social Security Disability Attorney?
The Social Security disability benefits application process can be difficult to navigate, but an experienced Social Security disability attorney can help guide you each step of the way, from your initial application to an appeal in federal court if necessary.
Unfortunately, most initial applications and reconsiderations are denied, so a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge may be your best chance at receiving benefits. Statistically speaking, an applicant who is represented by an attorney is twice as likely to be successful as an unrepresented claimant.
Work that an attorney can do to give you the greatest chance of success at this hearing includes helping to collect your medical records, preparing you to testify at the hearing, and cross-examining the vocational expert, on whom the court relies to determine whether or not your disability prevents you from working.
How do I Find the best Social Security Disability Lawyer for my case?
No one plans on becoming disabled. When disability happens to you, it can devastate your life. You’re in pain, you’re depressed, you’ve lost your ability to work, you don’t have enough money to support yourself and your family, and now you have to deal with a government agency – the Social Security Administration.
The best Social Security disability attorney for you will sit down with you and tailor their advice and advocacy to your individual situation. He or she will help you navigate the application process, up to and including the administrative hearing and appeal to federal court. You need a lawyer with experience and knowledge of the Social Security disability system.
At Kurtz and Blum, our North Carolina Social Security disability lawyers help disabled people at all stages in the disability claims process. That means you can call if you are just thinking about applying for disability or if your claim has already been denied. Our lawyers give each of our clients individualized attention, in order to create the best plan for getting you the benefits you need and deserve. Our attorneys have experience in every step of the process, including fighting the Social Security administration in federal court. Contact us now to get the help you deserve.