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Social Security Disability: The Initial Application Stage

The initial stage of the Social Security Disability process involves the initial filing of your Social Security Disability application and the Social Security Administration's review of your initial claim. In this stage of the process you will be filling out your application and providing the SSA with the documentation necessary to process your claim for Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security office will then send your file to be reviewed for approval or denial based on the information provided in your application.

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits

You can file your application for Social Security Disability online, over the phone or at your local Social Security office. You will be required to answer questions pertaining to your disability and your work history and will likely have to fill out a detailed Activities of Daily Living Questionnaire. Your medical records will need to be provided to the Social Security examiner and you may be asked to undergo a consultative exam. There must be evidence that your disability will last twelve months or longer in order to qualify for disability benefits.

When applying for disability benefits, you will be required to provide the Social Security office with certain personal information. It is helpful to have this information ready when completing your application for Social Security Disability benefits. Some of the personal information and documentation needed to complete your application include your social security number, your birth or baptismal certificate, the contact information for your doctors and the dates of your visits, the names and dosages of the medications you are taking, a complete history of your medical records, a copy of your most recent W-2 and a detailed work history.

Evaluating Your Claim for Social Security Disability Benefits

Once you have submitted your application, the Social Security office will check to see whether or not you have worked enough to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits and whether your current employment status disqualifies you from receiving disability benefits. If you meet the necessary criteria, the Social Security office will send your application to the Disability Determination Services department for a full review. It is this department that will be making the actual decision as to whether or not your disability claim is approved.

The Disability Determination Services office will review the information and medical records you have provided with your application for disability benefits. If the examiner reviewing your case does not have enough medical documentation to prove your disability, he or she may require you to attend a consultative exam. In some cases, more than one consultative exam may be requested.

After the Disability Determination Services have received all of the information needed to process your claim the employees with gather to evaluate the information within your file and will make a decision based on that information. They will approve or deny your claim based on the medical evidence provided, whether or not your specific disability is included in the Social Security Listing of Impairments, if you are able to perform the work you were doing prior to your disability and whether or not you are capable of performing any type of work at all.

Once the SSA approves or denies your claim they will send you a letter notifying you of the decision. If you are approved for benefits, your letter will state the amount of your monthly benefits and when those benefits will begin. If your application was not approved, the letter will explain why you were denied Social Security Disability benefits and what you need to do if you want to appeal the decision.

The Disability Determination Services only approves approximately 37 percent of the initial Social Security Disability applications received by the SSA. The remaining 63 percent of applicants are denied benefits. Many of those denied applicants go on to appeal the decision made by the Disability Determination Services. Hired a qualified disability lawyer will improve chances of being approved at the initial stage.

The Application Processing Time-Frame

It normally takes between three to six months for a Social Security Disability applicant to receive a decision on their initial application. The exception to this rule is those applicants who qualify for Social Security's Compassionate Allowance program. The Compassionate Allowance program helps people with severe disabilities get approved for Social Security Disability benefits more quickly. If you have one of the disabilities listed under the Compassionate Allowance program, your initial application may be processed in as little as twenty days.