Then you have come to the right place. The Law Office of Brendan Conley can assist you in applying for disability benefits (SSDI or SSI) or in appealing an application that was denied. It is important to understand the stages of a disability application.
The Initial Application
The first step in obtaining Social Security disability benefits is the initial application, which may be done in person at a Social Security Administration office or online. Many people choose to file an application at this stage without the assistance of an attorney. Information in the application is verified by Social Security Administration field offices and it is then sent to a Division of Disability Determinations office, part of the Florida Department of Health, for evaluation. It takes approximately 90 days or more for an initial determination to be made. In Florida, only 26.8 percent of claims are approved at the initial application stage, below the national average of 31 percent. If the application is denied, then the applicant has 60 days in which to file a request for reconsideration.
At the reconsideration stage, a new officer of the Division of Disability Determinations, who did not take part in the review of your initial application, considers your application. In Florida, 8.9 percent of applications that were initially denied are approved at the reconsideration stage. The reconsideration process takes approximately another 90 days or more. Upon receiving a denial at this stage, the applicant again has a 60 day deadline to file a request for a hearing.
Administrative Law Judge Hearing
If an application is denied again at the reconsideration stage, then you may request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This is where many cases are won. At this stage, obtaining representation from a Social Security disability lawyer is highly recommended, and statistics show that applicants who are represented by an attorney at this stage have greater success. An attorney can help develop medical evidence and prepare you for the hearing. The approval rate in Florida at the hearing stage is 48.3 percent. However, the wait time for a hearing is much longer than the wait at the previous stages and in Florida the wait is currently about 18 months.
If you receive an unfavorable decision from the Administrative Law Judge at your hearing, and you believe the judge made an error, then you may appeal to the Social Security Appeals Council. If the Council believes your case was decided incorrectly, the decision can be reversed or sent back to the judge for further proceedings.
A final possible stage in appealing a decision is filing a lawsuit in federal district court.
Please Note: We have opened up comments on this article so that you may ask additional questions if you wish, and we will try to answer them as we are able. Any answers are for informational purposes only; they do not constitute legal advice and do not establish an attorney-client relationship.
The information on this website does not constitute legal advice. Use of this website, including the contact form or comments form, does not establish an attorney-client relationship. In Florida and Colorado, Brendan Conley practices Social Security disability law exclusively. Attorney charges no fee unless your case is successful; clients may be responsible for their own costs, such as medical costs. Copyright Brendan Conley 2013-2019.