Filling out an application generally can be done online through www.socialsecurity.gov. In some instances, Social Security can’t process an online application and will direct you to more traditional methods like mailing a paper application or taking an application over the telephone in an appointment.
Similarly, an attorney can take the application over the telephone, enter your information, and structure it in the appropriate way to allow for that application to get moving as quickly as possible.
Once the application is filed, social security will send you a copy of the application to sign, whether you complete it with an attorney or with social security or on your own. You must sign off on that application, verifying that it is correct, that nothing’s been misrepresented, and that you are prepared to go forward.
After you sign, the application goes to a state agency called Disability Determination Services which does the bulk of the disability evaluation by requesting records from your doctors, getting information about your work background, and getting opinions from your doctors. This may come in the form of you seeing a doctor through social security, or it may just come in the form of a doctor from Social Security reviewing your documentation and issuing an opinion.
The Majority Of Initial Claims Are Denied
When your application has gone through the initial disability determination process, you’ll get a preliminary answer. You must remember, the majority of the claims are denied the first time through.
At this point, the main things you’re looking at are making sure that you’re discussing with your doctors what is going on that prevents you from working to ensure there’s consistent documentation. People at Disability Determination Services will be looking for information about your level of functioning and that comes often in the form of a questionnaire they mail you about your functioning. This form is your opportunity to inform them about the health issues you are dealing with in your day-to-day life.
The appeal process will give you a chance to provide updated information for social security. As with every step, this can be done either online or through a form that is mailed to you and mailed back.
The Request For Reconsideration. The first level of appeal is a request for reconsideration. Your reconsideration request goes back through the Disability Determinations Services process and is assigned to a different person for review. If your application is denied at that point, we request a hearing.
Request For Hearing By Administrative Law Judge. This hearing is an opportunity to go in front of a judge and have a conversation with a real person about what’s going on, and why you wouldn’t be capable of performing a job.
Depending on the outcome of the hearing, there may be an appeal required, or there may be additional information required to get the actual payments started. If your application is denied after the hearing by an administrative law judge, the next step would be to file an appeal through the appeal’s council.
Appeal Council Request For Review. The request for review through the appeal’s council is more of a paper review. Here, the council will look back at the judge’s decision and the documentation that supports the claim.
On their end, the council will determine whether or not the judge followed Social Security regulations and applied their rules in the evaluation of the claim. However, this is not necessarily an opportunity for a different person to offer their opinion on whether or not you’re disabled. The filing of this appeal through the appeal’s council only evaluates whether the judge did their job or not.
Proving You Are Disabled
Social Security’s assessment of your disability status relies on medical information. Based on your regular office visits, some of the questions Social Security seeks the answers to are:
- What did your doctor observe?
- Was blood work done?
- Were x-rays done?
- Were MRIs taken?
- Was your heart tested?
- And more…
The main action involved in evidencing disability is going to be a showing consistent course of treatment of the difficulties that you’re having. Beyond that, you want to show any evidence from your treating doctors that answers the following questions:
- What kind of functional limitations are you dealing with?
- What health issues have you been receiving treatment for?
- Why have these health issues not responded to normal medical treatment?
- Why have you not been able to return to some type of work?
Then, Social Security looks at your work history, and specifically how the injury or illness prevents you from working. In analyzing this connection, they look at your course of treatment.
While your primary care physician, hospital, or emergency care provides evidence of your injury or illness, the care of specialists often carries more weight. Seeing a specialist who understands your primary medical condition and focuses her practice on it is important. In addition, your follow-up with the specialist and your consistent complaints about the underlying problem will support your claim that the injury or illness affects your ability to work.
One appointment with your primary care physician about your injury or illness supports the beginning of your health problem. But if it’s not shown consistently throughout your ongoing treatment, if it’s not a focus of care, Social Security does not have sufficient evidence of the role your injury or illness has in preventing you from performing your job.
With the guidance of a skilled attorney for Social Security Disability Law Cases, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we’ll make it look easy.
For more information on Social Security Disability Law in North Carolina, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (704) 412-4773 today.