Disability Answers You Need

How is my disability determined?

1. Levels of appeal

  • Initial application
    • This application can be done online or by phone through the Social Security Administration
    • We can also walk you through it or do it for you. Just give us a call.
    • SSA will request medical records up to this point according to info you give them.
  • If denied – Request for reconsideration
    • You have only 60 days to appeal an initial decision made on your application.
    • The majority op claims are denied and have to appeal so make sure you appeal and on time.
    • An appeal can be made by filling out a simple Social Security Form requesting reconsideration of the denial of initial application. SSA will send you the form with your denial or you can follow the link.
    • Let us help you fill it out. What you say can be used for you or against you.
  • If denied – Request for Hearing
    • You have only 60 days to appeal a denial of your request for reconsideration.
    • The majority of claims are also denied at this level so, again, don’t get discouraged. You need to appeal.
    • An appeal can be made by filing out a simple Social Security Form requesting that the decision be reviewed by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). SSA will send you the form with your denial of reconsideration or you can follow the link.
    • It is important to have a representative because updated medical records as well as Medical Source Statements will need to be gathered to complete the record.
  • Hearing before Administrative Law Judge
    • It usually takes a lot of time for them to set up a hearing, depending on where you are.
    • This is your best chance to tell your side of the story.
    • Testimony is taken from:
      • You, Vocational Expert, Medical Expert (some times)
    • It is important to have a representative with you to ask the questions of you and the other witnesses that the ALJ does not ask.
  • If denied – Appeals Panel Review
  • If denied – Appeal to Federal District Court

2. Five-Step Sequential Evaluation Process (Process used by ALJ to make a determination in your claim)

1. Are you working?

  • If no, go on. If yes, you will not be considered disabled
  • It has to be Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) to be considered working.

2. Is your problem severe?

  • If yes, go on. If no, you will not be considered disabled
  • To be severe, your problems must interfere with basic work activities.
    • Physical activities
      • Lift, Carry, Stand, Walk, Sit, Push, Pull, Etc.
    • Mental activities
      • Understanding instructions, Carrying out instructions, Responding appropriately to coworkers and supervisors, Dealing with changes in work setting or routine, Etc.

3. Do you meet or equal a listing?

  • There are certain listed physical or mental problems (listings) that, if you have them to the required severity, qualify you for Social Security Benefits.

4. Can you do any of your past work?

  • In this step, the ALJ will look at your age, education and work experience and your Residual Functional Capacity to see if the person could return to past work.
  • A vocational expert’s testimony is taken to see if your impairments limit you so much that you would not be able to perform your past work.

5. Can you do ANY other type of less demanding work?

  • The burden is now on the ALJ to, from the record, your testimony and the testimony of the vocational expert, if there is any job that you could do.
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