This year alone, thousands of Alabama residents will file disability claims with the Social Security Administration. Of the nearly four million residents living in the state, approximately 7.3 percent receive Social Security Disability payments. While the percentage of residents who receive disability benefits in Alabama is one of the highest, the number of applicants who are denied benefits during the initial stage of the application process is one of the highest as well. In fact, more than 70 percent of the disability claims received in Alabama are not approved during the initial stage of the application process. To make matters worse, nearly three-fourths of Alabama Social Security Disability applicants are also denied at the first stage of appeals. In fact, the majority of Alabama Social Security Disability applicants must appear before an Administrative Law Judge before receiving the disability benefits they are entitled to.
Because most Alabama Social Security Disability applicants must appeal the SSA's decision to deny their initial disability claim, these applicants must wait extensive periods of time in order to receive a disability hearing before an ALJ. In the State of Alabama, it can take anywhere from 438 to 514 days to be scheduled for this hearing. It then takes another two to three months for applicants to receive notice as to whether or not the judge presiding over their case decided in their favor.
The reason that Alabama Social Security Disability applicants must wait such long periods of time to obtain a disability hearing is due to the backlog of disability cases that are waiting to be heard. The Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, also known as ODAR, is the Social Security agency that is responsible for scheduling disability hearings for applicants who are appealing a denial of their disability benefits. The area of Alabama that you live in is what determines which ODAR office handles your disability case. This also determines how long you must wait to have your case heard in court. The ODAR offices that are responsible for scheduling the hearings for Alabama Social Security Disability applicants are as follows:
- Birmingham, Alabama
- Florence, Alabama
- Mobile, Alabama
- Montgomery, Alabama
The Birmingham ODAR office is responsible for scheduling the disability hearings for the Social security field offices in Albertville, Bessemer, Birmingham Downtown, Birmingham East, Gadsden, Jasper, Talladega and Tuscaloosa. It takes this office an average of 514 days to schedule a disability hearing.
The Florence ODAR office is responsible for managing the disability hearings for the Social Security field offices in Cullman, Decatur, Florence and Huntsville. It takes this office an average of 491 days to schedule a disability hearing.
The Mobile ODAR office is responsible for scheduling the disability hearings for the Social Security field offices in Andalusia, Dothan, Fairhope, Jackson and Mobile. It takes this office an average of 438 days to schedule a hearing for Alabama Social Security Disability applicants.
The Montgomery ODAR office manages the disability hearings for the Social Security field offices in Alexander City, Anniston, Montgomery, Opelika and Selma. It takes this office an average of 452 days to schedule a disability hearing.
How to Apply For a Disability Benefit In Alabama
If you are applying for SSDI in Alabama you can apply at your local social security office. However, you need to ensure you have all the right evidence proving your disability first.
This is because Alabama's approval rate for disability benefits is slightly lower than the national average. Initial applications in
Alabama are approved 31% of the time, while the national average for approvals on initial applications is 35%.
The sorts of evidence you need to prove your disability include your doctor’s report, treatment program and likely recovery time.
It is rare for social security disability benefits applications in Alabama to be awarded unless the evidence proves you will be disabled for at least 12 months.
If you believe you need to get some extra help to get your disability benefits application approved you should request that you take part in a residual functioning capacity test (RFC) conducted by your doctor.
It concentrates on highlighting your limitations to carry out certain types of work by assessing both your physical and mental capacities.
If your initial application is denied you should request that the Disability Determination Service (DDS) reconsider your application. Reconsideration is the next step in the application process and claimants cannot request a hearing before an Administration Law Judge (ALJ) without going through the reconsideration stage first.
The DDS will send you a letter telling you why your disability claim was denied which will include a request form for reconsideration.
This form needs to be completed and returned within sixty (60) days of receiving the initial denial. Additional information can at this point in time be added to the claim that is being reviewed.
Hiring an Alabama Social Security Disability Attorney
Because Alabama Social Security Disability applicants must wait more than a year before obtaining a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, many of these applicants wonder if there is any way to avoid the lengthy and complicated disability appeal process. The only way to avoid a disability appeal is to have your application approved during the initial stage of the Social Security Disability claim process. In some cases, the services of a qualified Alabama Social Security Disability lawyer can help you accomplish this goal.
When you work with an Alabama Social Security Disability attorney, your attorney will work with you to prepare your disability claim. This professional will ensure that your application is prepared properly and that you have all of the medical evidence needed to support your claim for disability benefits. Your attorney will also ensure that your application for benefits is presented to the Social Security Administration in the best light possible. This can increase your chances of obtaining an approval during the initial stage of the application process. If your application is still denied by the Social Security Administration, your Alabama Social Security Disability lawyer will help you file an appeal and will represent you during the appeal process.
If your application for disability benefits is denied by the Social Security Administration, working with a qualified Alabama Social Security Disability attorney may be crucial to the success of your appeal. Statistics show that applicants who obtain legal representation are much more likely to win their appeals than applicants who choose to represent themselves.
If you would like to learn more about hiring an Alabama Social Security Disability lawyer, click here to receive a free evaluation of your Social Security Disability case.