Will I Qualify For Disability Benefits in California?

Qualifying for Social Security Disability in California involves the same medical disability process as any other state. You must first file an application for disability with Social Security. This can be done by phone, in person, or online. A Social Security claims representative, or CR, will complete the necessary disability claim development with you during your interview. If you file online you must complete the necessary disability report forms.

No matter how you file your application with Social Security, your disability claim, when complete, will be sent to a state disability agency--usually referred to as DDS for a medical disability decision. State disability examiners will request medical records from all of the medical treatment professionals you provided at your disability interview.

If the disability examiner does not think they have enough current medical information (medical treatment within the past ninety days), you may be asked to attend a consultative medical examination to get current medical information. Once the disability examiner receives enough medical information, they will make a disability determination on the claim. The chances are high that your initial disability claim will be denied.

The initial disability claim approval rate in California is 31.9 percent, which is slightly above the national average of 31.7 percent.

If the application for disability is denied

If your initial disability determination is a denial, you must file a reconsideration appeal to keep your disability claim moving through the Social Security Disability process in California.

You can file your reconsideration appeal online or by completing the necessary appeal paperwork and returning it to your local Social Security office. The important thing to remember about appealing your initial disability claim denial is that the appeal period is sixty'five days from the date of your denial notice. If your appeal is not received at your local Social Security office on the sixty-fifth day, you run the risk of having to begin your disability claim again.

Once you have filed your reconsideration appeal, it is sent back to the same state disability agency that made your original disability determination, so as you might guess, the approval rate for reconsideration appeals is extremely low. Reason being, the reconsideration appeal goes to the same agency with the same rules and guidelines for a disability determination.

The only difference is that the reconsideration appeal decision is made by a different disability examiner. If the first disability examiner did not make an error and you have not provided any new medical evidence that might change the decision, there is very little likelihood that your reconsideration appeal will result in you qualifying for disability. The reconsideration approval rate in California is 11. 5, which again is slightly above the average national approval rate of 11.0 percent.

For disability applicants, the reconsideration appeal is just a necessary step toward a disability hearing.

The disability hearing appeal in California

If your reconsideration appeal is denied, you can file a request for a disability hearing to appeal the decision. Like the reconsideration appeal, you have a total of sixty-five days to file your appeal.

Unlike the reconsideration appeal, the disability hearing appeal decision is not made by disability examiners at a state disability agency. Disability hearing decisions are made by administrative law judges who are not as strictly bound when making the medical disability decision as the state disability examiners who make the initial disability claim and reconsideration appeal Decisions.

More disability applicants qualify for disability at this level of the Social Security Disability process than any other.

The disability hearing approval rate in California is 60.9 percent, versus the average national disability hearing approval rate of 58.6.

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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