Disability Application Process
Once your application is filed, it will take about four to six months for Social Security to make a decision about your eligibility for benefits. They may request medical evidence or other additional information. They may also ask that you see one of their doctors. If Social Security decides that you are not eligible for benefits, they will send you a notice explaining the decision. If you don’t agree with the decision, you have 60 days to file a request for reconsideration.
First Appeal – Reconsideration
During the reconsideration appeal, Social Security will look at your claim and review all the evidence, including any new evidence that may have been added. Reconsideration appeals usually take from three to five months for Social Security to make a decision about your eligibility for benefits. As with the previous decision, if you do not agree with the decision, you have 60 days to file a request for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
Second Appeal – Hearing Before an Administrative Law Judge
This appeal requests a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). It usually takes 18 to 24 months to be scheduled for a hearing with an ALJ, at which time you and your representative will have the opportunity to explain your case in person. This step is the first time that you will be able to testify about how your disability prevents you from sustaining full-time work. The ALJ will review all the evidence in your file before the hearing and will issue a new written decision on your claim. The decision may take four to six months to receive. The majority of claims are approved at the ALJ level compared to the initial or reconsideration levels. If the decision is unfavorable, you have 60 days to file a request for review of your claim by the Appeals Council.
Third Appeal – Appeals Council
If the decision made by the ALJ is unfavorable, you may file a request to have your claim reviewed by the Appeals Council. Your representative may submit written arguments in support of your claim. The Appeals Council will perform one of three actions: deny your request for a review; order another hearing to be held; or decide in your favor. It may take 1 year or more for you to receive a decision from the Appeals Council. If the decision is unfavorable you have 60 days to file an appeal in Federal District Court.
Fourth Appeal – Review by the Federal District Court
If you disagree with the Appeals Council’s decision, a lawsuit may be filed in Federal District Court.
We offer full service with extensive support at every step of the process.