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Social Security Disability Benefits - Steps in Filing a Claim


Social Security Disability Benefits - Steps in Filing a Claim By http://www.edgarsnyder.com/

 

 

Social Security Disability is a part of the Federal Social Security Act. It encompasses several programs that provide monthly disability payments and other benefits to disabled workers and their families. SSD benefits may consist of cash payments and medical coverage.


 Social Security Disability is a part of the Federal Social Security Act. It encompasses several programs that provide monthly disability payments and other benefits to disabled workers and their families. SSD benefits may consist of cash payments and medical coverage.

Filing a Social Security disability (SSD) benefits claim can be an overwhelming process. If you are unsure of who is eligible for SSD benefits, what the claims process involves, or what to do if your claim is denied, the following information can help answer your questions.

Length of Claim Processing

Not counting appeals, the average processing time for an SSD claim is 120 days. The actual amount of time it takes to process your claim will depend upon the state in which you live, the nature or your disability, how quickly Social Security receives medical evidence from your doctor or other medical source, and whether you need to go for a medical examination.

Eligibility Requirements

To receive Social Security disability benefits, an injured worker must meet a variety of criteria. The first set of criteria concerns the medical condition of the applicant. The person who is applying for benefits must have a 'medically determinable impairment.' This means that the applicant must have a physical or mental impairment that can be medically diagnosed and established by evidence consisting of signs, symptoms, and laboratory findings. Additionally, this impairment must have lasted, or be expected to last, at least one year or be expected to result in death. Finally, the impairment must result in the inability to work.

The second set of criteria regards the applicant's work history. In order to be eligible for SSD benefits, the applicant must have worked long enough, and recently enough, to have sufficiently contributed to the Social Security system. Otherwise, you would be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Filing the Initial Application

If you are disabled, cannot work, and have determined that you meet the eligibility criteria, you can apply for Social Security disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. You can apply by contacting the Social Security Administration or by filling out their online application.

Approval of Benefits

If you are approved for SSD benefits, it is regarded as a permanent benefit. There are several circumstances under which your benefits could be terminated:


If you engage in 'Substantial Gainful Activity' - any activity that is substantial enough to negate eligibility for benefits, including going to school or working full time.
If the Social Security Administration reviews your case and decides that your condition has improved.
If you become incarcerated or institutionalized against your will for more than 30 days, you are ineligible for benefits during this time.

Denial of Benefits and the Appeals Process

If you believe that you are wrongfully denied SSD benefits you can appeal the decision. The most important thing to remember is that you only have 60 days to appeal.

The first step in the appeals process is an administrative hearing. The hearing will be conducted by an administrative law judge who will ask a variety of questions about your medical condition and your work history. There may also be a vocational expert at the hearing to present an opinion as to whether or not you are capable of working. The administrative judge will consider the following questions:

Are you currently engaged in gainful work?
If you are not currently performing gainful work, is your physical or mental medical condition considered medically severe enough to be labeled a disability?
Has your condition lasted, or is it expected to last, for at least one year, and does it meet or medically equal a listed impairment?
Does your condition prevent you from working in your established profession?
Does your condition prevent you from working in any other profession in which jobs are available?

If the administrative hearing does not yield the desired results, the claim can be taken to the Appeals Council for further review. The Appeals Council can choose to do one of the following: review your claim and render a decision, decide not to review your claim, or remand you claim to the Administrative Law Judge for further consideration. The average processing time for the Appeals Council is 18 to 24 months.

If the outcome of the Appeals Council is not favorable, the claim can be pursued in Federal Court. A civil suit can be filed in Federal District Court and appealed all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

 

Article Provided by Edgar Snyder

 

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