The Social Security disability application process includes the initial application and four possible phases of the appeal process.
- Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
- Appeals Council review
- Hearing held by a Federal District Court Judge
Since the SSA denies a majority of initial applications for disability, applicants need to understand the options available for appealing a denied claim.
The Application for Disability Benefits
The application you submit to the SSA for disability benefits must not have any errors. You also have to make sure to complete every section of the application. An important element of any disability application is the medical documents that confirm you have received a diagnosis for arthritis. The SSA also wants evidence of the treatments delivered by your physician, as well as the extent of a rehabilitation program. Submitting evidence that demonstrates you have lost wages because of arthritis is important to include as well.
How the SSA’s Blue Book Affects Disability Claims
SSA examiners refer to a guide called the Blue Book to determine the validity of a disability claim. Although inflammatory arthritis is listed under Section 14.10 of the Blue Book, the listing itself does not guarantee the SSA will approve your disability claim. The SSA also considers the severity of your symptoms, especially when it comes to how your symptoms impact your job performance. For arthritis, that can include a review of how limited your motion is while at work. Understanding how the Blue Book influences SSA examiners is crucial to getting a disability claim approved.
Include a Residual Functional Capacity Form
A Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form explains the maximum amount of physical work an applicant can do while dealing with a serious medical condition such as arthritis. The SSA requires applicants that want to submit an RFC form to undergo a comprehensive medical evaluation. If the SSA concludes that your arthritis symptoms significantly limit your physical capabilities at work, then the agency should approve your disability claim. Look at an RFC form as extra evidence of your disability.
How to Handle a Denied Disability Application
Since the SSA denies, you should prepare for the possibility of having to file an appeal. The appeal process starts with reconsideration, which consists of an applicant filing an appeal with the SSA. Although the SSA is once again involved in the disability claim process, a different examiner will review your case. If the SSA denies your claim again, the next step is to request a hearing in front of an ALJ. This step of the appeals process allows you to testify and call witnesses to the stand.
A review conducted by the Appeals Council represents the third stage of the appeals process. Unlike an ALJ hearing, you do not have the opportunity to argue your case in front of the council. All communication is done in written form. The last chance for an appeal falls before a federal district court judge who determines whether the ALJ made a mistake in denying your claim.
Request a Free Case Evaluation
From submitting an accurate disability claim to arguing in front of a federal district court judge, a Social Security attorney should improve the strength of your case. Your lawyer will ensure you present the most convincing evidence, as well as meet every deadline imposed by the SSA. Schedule a free case evaluation today to see where your disability claim stands.