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social security disability income benefits

The SSDI Claim Procedure Step by Step

The first step when applying for benefits is the initial application. Once this gets filed, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will forward your claim over to Disability Determination Services (DDS). They will determine whether or not your claim will be initially approved for benefits.  They may have you complete some questionnaires or even attend a consultative exam with a physician and/or a psychologist for further evaluation, if needed. They will also begin gathering your medical records and may ask for information from your family or friends for whom you choose as a contact. Once this has all been completed, DDS will make a determination if the claim will be approved or denied. If approved, an award letter will be sent to you regarding the benefits and the amount you are eligible for. If your claim is denied initially, you will be issued a notice of disapproved claim, which will provide the basis for the denial, the medical evidence they based their decision on and how to proceed with an appeal. You are then given 60 days from the date of the denial to complete the next step; which is called reconsideration. Your next step is to file a request for reconsideration. By filing a request for reconsideration, you are telling SSA that you do not agree with their first decision; and that you want your claim to be reviewed again The local SSA office will process your request for reconsideration and send it off to DDS for re-evaluation. DDS may again have you complete some questionnaires and may even send you for another consultative exam with a physician and/or a psychologist if needed. DDS will also request your current medical records. Once this takes place, DDS will make another determination if the claim will be approved or denied. If the claim is again denied, the local SSA will issue a notice of reconsideration that will advise you the reason it is being denied, the medical evidence they based their decision on and how to proceed with the next step of an appeal. You are given another 60 days from the date of the denial to complete the next step which is a request for hearing. Once you file your request for hearing, your claim will be transferred from the local SSA office to the Office of Disability, Adjudication and Review (ODAR). ODAR is the hearing office. This will allow you to have your day in court and to present your case before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ may use experts at your hearing to assist in evaluating your claim such as medical or vocational experts. The ALJ will issue a decision in writing and will mail the decision to you and your representative. Most clients have their best chance at receiving benefits at the hearing level. If the decision is only partially favorable or partially unfavorable, a decision from ODAR will provide you with the details of how to complete another appeal. You will again be given 60 days to complete an appeal to the Appeals Counsel if your claim has been denied. If the Appeals Counsel decides to review your case, it will either decide your case itself or can return it back to the Administrative Law Judge for further review. If the Appeals Counsel provides you with an unfavorable decision or decides not to review your case, the last level of the appeals process would be to file a civil suit in a Federal District Court.

Timing of the Process

From initial application to disability of determination decision - 3 to 6 months.

Reconsideration stage - estimated time is 3 months if no new medical evidence is provided.

Hearing with ALJ - 12 months to 18 months.

Appeal with Appeals Counsel - may take up to a year.

The Dickstein Law Firm is a victim’s advocacy law firm that represents people whom suffer from injuries and medical conditions whose disabilities prevent them from working and force them to seek medical care and services.

Mark Dickstein, Esq., is Managing Partner for The Dickstein Law Firm. The Dickstein Law Firm is located in Pembroke Pines, FL, and represents clients involved in personal injury lawsuits, wrongful death claims, automobile accidents, product liability cases, workers' compensation claims, retaliatory discharge lawsuits, medical malpractice claims, slip and fall injuries, property loss disputes, hurricane damage losses,  music business law agreements and disputes, as well as any issues you may be having with obtaining your social security disability benefits.  To learn more, please visit the law firm's website at

Please do not consider the content contained in this article as a substitute for actual legal advice from counsel who has been retained and/or consulted with, as most cases have their own unique set of facts and require detailed information to properly analyze and form an appropriate legal strategy. This article is intended for informational purposes only.