What do you do after You Apply for Disability?

If you have applied for Social Security Disability (SSD), the wait for news on the approval or denial of your claim can take months (3 to 4 months is average). In the event that your claim is denied, and your request for reconsideration (in which you ask that social security reconsider the evidence in your case) is denied, you have the option of requesting a disability hearing in front of an ALJ, or administrative law judge ' it can take one to two additional years before your case is even heard.

In the best of circumstances, it may be many months (or even years) before a claimant asking for SSD or SSI relief actually sees any disability payments, and the last thing a disabled worker wants or needs is to have their claim delayed by bureaucratic slip-ups. For this reason, it is a good idea to follow up with social security at key points to make sure that they are doing their part to move your disability application forward.

After you file with social security, your claim should be transferred to the state agency responsible for evaluating SSD and SSI claims (most often called disability determination services, or DDS). It is at this agency that a disability examiner is assigned to evaluate your medical records, and a determination of your disability status is made.

However, there have been cases in which claims have been delayed for months simply because the social security office never forwarded them to the state disability agency. If you've applied for disability with social security, you should call both social security and the state disability agency to make sure your claim was received for evaluation.

Likewise, if your disability benefits are denied by DDS, the disability agency, and you have filed a request for a disability hearing before and administrative judge, you should contact the hearing office to make sure social security has actually sent your file to the hearing office. There have been instances when hearing requests, be they filed by the claimant or filed by a disability attorney, are never forwarded to the hearing office, increasing what is already sure to be a lengthy wait.

Unfortunately, if the social security office mishandles your application, you have no real recourse. That is why, although it may seem unfair, it is up to you to follow up with social security and make sure they are keeping track of your claim and sending it through the proper channels. While it is true that all disability cases take some time to be processed, a couple of well-timed phone calls is all it takes to make sure yours will not be unnecessarily delayed.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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