Five Levels Might Be Needed to Obtain Disability
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) follow the same application and review process with the Social Security Administration. There are a possible five levels that an applicant might be required to follow before a final decision is made.
Read below for more information on each level:
Level One - Initial Application
If you are unable to work due to a physical or mental impairment, the first step is to complete a Social Security Disability application. Information will be collected about you and your disability including your medial history, work history, and education level. You may also be asked to submit to a consultative exam with a doctor contracted with the Social Security Administration. Don't be discouraged if your initial claim is denied. Approximately 60% of claimants do not receive benefits at this level.
Level Two - Reconsideration
In most states (40 of 50), there is a claim reconsideration process. If you are denied at the initial level, you must file for reconsideration within the first 60 days of your denial. Once you file this appeal, it will take three to five months to get a decision. Although there is a possibility of getting your claim overturned, it is most likely that your claim will once again be denied. Don't lose hope. If you have a genuine disability. Most claims take to stage three before they are approved.
Level Three - Hearing - most cases are determined here!
The best chance for your denial to be overturned is through a hearing with a Social Security Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). You must file for a hearing within 60 days after the denial of your reconsideration. Those that obtain representation at this level almost double their odds for a favorable outcome. It is currently taking the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review eight to 16 months to schedule a hearing from the date they receive the hearing application.
Level Four - Appeals Council
If you have a genuine disability, we will continue to fight for you. If the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) does not award you benefits, we can take your case to an Appeals Council. We understand the law and we know how various jurisdictions throughout the nation handle cases. The Appeals Council will review the ALJ's decision for any procedural error. Unfortunately, this step is taking 12-18 months for review.
Level Five - Federal Court
If your disability claim has been denied through all of the available administrative appeals, you can appeal your claim to the Federal Court. Very few of our cases warrant this level of appeal.