The lawyers at Reardon Law Office LLC can help assist you with filing and winning your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims. It is typically easier to work with an attorney at the onset of filing a SSDI claim, but our legal staff is prepared to assist you at any stage of the process.
To qualify for SSDI, the Applicant must be insured (meaning the Applicant must have worked and paid federal payroll taxes (FICA) for five of the last ten years). The Applicant must also apply before reaching full retirement age and must meet Social Security’s definition of total disability.
To qualify for SSDI, the applicant must be deemed totally disabled because the Social Security Administration will not pay benefits for short-term or partial disabilities. The Social Security Administration uses this criteria to determine whether applicants are totally disabled: (1) Applicants must be unable to do the work that they did before the disability; (2) Social Security has decided that they cannot reasonably adjust to another form of work because of the Applicant’s medical condition(s); (3) The Applicant must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) that has lasted or is expected to last for at least a one year period or will result in the Applicant’s death.
The SSA defines a “Medically Determinable Impairment” as “an impairment that results from anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities that can be shown by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques.” Conditions that may qualify applicants for benefits include:
· Back Pain
· Bipolar Disorder
· Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
· Chronic Headaches
· Congestive Heart Failure
· Hepatitis C
· Huntington’s Disease
· Liver and Kidney Disease
· Mental Retardation
· Mood Disorders
· Multiple Sclerosis
· Muscular Dystrophy
· Organic Brain Dysfunction
· Parkinson’s Disease
· Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
· Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
· Rheumatoid Arthritis
· Traumatic Brain Injury
A complete listing of the Social Security Disability’s list of disabling conditions can be found at the ssa.gov.
In order to qualify for SSDI, an applicant must have worked for a long enough period and paid Social Security taxes.
While benefits typically continue for as long as an individual remains disabled, it is common that a disability claim will be reviewed to confirm that the applicant receiving benefits continues to meet the requirements for disability. Benefits will likely cease if there is convincing evidence that the applicant’s medical condition has improved and they will be fit to return to work. Reviews of disability claims can happen as quickly as a few months after disability approval or as long as ten plus years after disability approval.
The SSDI application process can be long, stressful, and confusing. Since the SSA receives hundreds of thousands of applications each month, it can take anywhere between five and seven months from the date of the initial application to receive a decision. If an appeals process if necessary, the application process can take several years. That is why an experienced attorney can help to reduce the stress and uncertainty the applicant may experience while going through the process.
The SSDI application process has four primary stages: the initial application, reconsideration, an ALJ Hearing, and the Appeals Council.
The initial application comprises of the initial request to SSDI for the applicant’s benefits. Our attorneys will work with the applicant to prepare all the necessary information to complete the application process. Our attorneys will file the paperwork with the applicant’s local Social Security Administration office. Representatives from the Social Security Administration will process the claim by reviewing the applicant’s work history, review citizenship requirements, and perform a medical determination of each applicant’s disability, to make a decision regarding benefits. Typically, it takes SSDI anywhere between five and seven months on average to send a decision. If necessary, the Social Security Administration will request that the Applicant receive a Consultative Exam by a SSA selected physician (at no cost to the Applicant).
If the Applicant’s initial application for SSDI benefits is denied, than our attorneys would file an appeal called a Request for Reconsideration. Under this stage, representatives of SSA would review the original decision and determine whether or not it was appropriate under the law. This process usually takes between five and seven months on average.
If the Applicant’s Request for Reconsideration is denied, the attorneys at Reardon Law Office LLC would move for an ALJ Hearing, where the Applicant would first get his or her opportunity to speak with a Judge. At this process, the case is transferred from the local social security office to a regional office where these hearings are held. The applicant will likely receive a letter from SSA confirming that the Request for Hearing was filed and will then receive a notice about 75 days before the hearing date. Our attorneys are able to represent the Applicant at the Hearing where the Judge will ask about your medical history and the issues that you are having. The Applicant will not receive a decision on the day of his or her Hearing. The Applicant will receive a written decision from the Judge within six months of the hearing. When the Applicant receives the decision, it will either be favorable, partially favorable, or unfavorable.
If the claim is denied at this stage the Applicant can either file a complaint in Federal Court to attempt to reverse the Judge’s decision or file a new application and begin the process again. Our lawyers can help counsel you on the best course of action at this time.
At the fourth stage, the Appeals Council, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will review the decision to determine whether the Applicant’s claim was adjudicated properly. The Judge will either reverse or confirm the decision of the ALJ, or will remand the Applicant’s case back to the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review for further review. The Applicant will receive a decision typically between twelve and eighteen months on average.
Once benefits are allowed, they typically continue until the Applicant is ready and able to return to work. If the Applicant reaches retirement age, and is therefore eligible for regular Social Security benefits, than the Applicant’s Social Security Disability program will automatically roll over to Social Security retirement benefits.
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