Social Security Disability Application Process

Summary: In order to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you must apply and have the application approved by the Social Security Administration (SSA). There are four opportunities to win that approval:

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability, you must have a medical condition which prevents you from engaging in Substantially Gainful Activity (SGA) and you must meet the work history and other requirements laid out by the SSA

Initial Application

3 to 6 month average wait period | 35% of applications from all sources approved nationally

  • The Hopping Law Firm,PC will guide you through the process of completing the initial Social Security disability application and a detailed Activities of Daily Living Questionnaire as well as any additional required paperwork.
  • A doctor will verify information in your application and must be able to confirm that the disabling condition will last at least twelve months.
  • The Disability Determination Services (DDS) located in your state will make the initial disability determination. They collect medical evidence and coordinate additional consultative exams if additional evidence is needed to make their decision.

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First Appeal / Reconsideration

3 to 5 month average wait period | 13% of First Appeals from all sources approved nationally

  • Your request for an appeal / reconsideration must be filed within 60 days of the denial of your initial application.
  • Your medical and vocational information will need to be reviewed and updated.
  • A new individual from within the Social Security Administration reviews your appeal and makes a decision, communicated by letter to you.

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Second Appeal / Hearing

1.4 years average wait period | 37% of Second Appeals from all sources approved nationally

  • Your request for a second appeal / hearing must come within 60 days of being denied. This moves your decision from the SSA claims processors to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who will hold a hearing on your appeal.
  • You will receive notice and details of your Hearing approximately twenty (20) days before the scheduled date. Hearings are typically held within seventy-five (75) miles of your home Some hearings are conducted via video teleconferencing.
  • At the hearing, you and your Attorney will have an opportunity to present evidence and witnesses for questioning. You may also be questioned by the ALJ.
  • Following the Hearing the ALJ will independently make and issue a written decision on your appeal.
  • It is also possible for your Attorney to request a “decision on the record” which is a request for the ALJ to make a decision without a Hearing.

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Third Appeal / Appeals Council

8 months average wait period | 3% of Third Appeals from all sources approved nationally

  • Your request for a third appeal / Appeals Council review must come within 60 days of being denied.
  • The Appeals Council will review the disability hearing decision to determine if it was rendered properly according to the law.




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