People who apply for Social Security Disability benefits often find themselves frustrated by the process. They hear that “nobody gets approved the first time” and that it will take years to get through the system. I wish I could tell you that they are wrong.
The current Social Security Disability process is a lengthy, often frustrating one. It often seems that “nobody gets approved” on their initial application. Clients often scour through decision looking for the reason for their denial. I often tell clients – you simply didn’t fit into their box.
The initial and reconsideration (first appeal) stages of the Social Security Disability claims process are decided by administrative officials who, I believe, are very restricted in what claims they are able to approve. If you do not fit squarely into a set of criteria for certain conditions they are able to approve, often times, you are not approved at these first two stages of the process.
I will say that it seems that lately, the Administration has been willing to approve more applicants, particularly those over the age of 55, at these earlier levels. Unfortunately, that means that most people still have to get the hearing level (second appeal) before they are approved. This certainly does not mean you cannot be approved earlier, simply that most people have to wait. Currently, in our area, it can take 1 ½ – 2 years to reach the hearing level.
At the hearing level, your claim is reviewed by an Administrative Law Judge, who is not bound by the earlier decisions of the Administration, and who can fully review the claim. The hearing level is your best chance of being approved.
Given all of this, I would still encourage people to hire an attorney to help you in the process as soon as you can. Hiring an attorney early allows the attorney ample time to prepare you case. It also allows the attorney to stay on top of the appeals process to be sure you do not miss any deadlines, which can delay or negate your claim if you miss them. Finally, your attorney can work with the Administration at the earlier levels of the process to try to get your claim approved as early as possible. While we do not have control over how long Social Security takes to process your claim, we can work with your adjudicator to make sure they have the information they need to fully assess your claim at these early levels.
Our office can provide you with a free assessment of your claim. All you need to do is give us a call. We will let you know if we can help with your claim and begin working on your case right away. Contact us at 404-855-0984 to discuss your claim today!