Social Security Claims Process
While it’s true that most first-time applications for Social Security Disability benefits are denied, working with a qualified disability benefits attorney can save your time and effort in qualifying for and receiving disability benefits. Should you need to appeal a denial of benefits, our office has the resources, knowledge, and experience needed to leverage your case at all levels of appeal.
At McCormick & Vilushis LLC, we can help you at any step in the process of applying for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income. From our office location in Erie, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Northwest Pennsylvania. For more information regarding our practice and how we can help you, contact Social Security Disability benefits attorneys at McCormick & Vilushis LLC today.
The following process applies to SSDI and SSI claims in Pennsylvania:
Step 1: Applying for Social Security Disability or SSI
- For either Social Security Disability or SSI, an application for disability benefits may be filed at your local Social Security office or through our office. Our lawyers can assist you in filing a disability application in the appropriate cases: particularly if you have been disabled for at least 12 months with a significant impairment that is documented. You will need to provide information regarding your work, education, and medical history. You should call our office if you are asked to be examined by a Social Security Administration physician. Understanding what kinds of information to provide and how to approach your own doctor in regard to your disability application is important.
- Having an attorney review your case will ensure that you provide a true picture of yourself and your disability.
Step 2: Denial of Your Disability Claim
- You should not be discouraged if your disability claim is denied. From 80 percent to 90 percent of all applications are denied initially by the Social Security Administration. You can appeal the decision, and this is the time when most people seek legal representation. Our lawyers win the majority of cases we handle on appeal.
Step 3: Reconsideration
- The next step in the process is the “request for reconsideration” from Social Security. You may or may not be required to go through this step, depending on where you live in Pennsylvania
- At reconsideration, you will either be granted benefits or your claim will be denied.
Step 4: Request for Hearing
- If your claim is denied, then it is time to appeal the decision by requesting a hearing before an administrative law judge. It is critical to have competent legal representation at this stage of the process. Our lawyers make sure you have the right kind of medical and other evidence to give a true picture of your condition.
- We will write to doctors who have examined and treated you to explain the Social Security regulations and the reports you need. If appropriate, we may refer you to specialists to examine you and may request reports from them. These doctors will give an honest appraisal of your disability. Of course, we do not guarantee that they will find you disabled.
Step 5: Your Social Security Disability Hearing
- An Administrative Law Judge will preside over your hearing. Testimony will be taken under oath, but the hearing will generally be somewhat informal. It is private, usually held by way of video conferencing, in a small room with only the judge and his or her assistant, you, your attorney, and possibly your spouse or a friend.
- As your attorneys, we prepare you thoroughly for the hearing, so there is no need to be apprehensive. Its purpose is to seek the truth and to carry out the purpose of the Social Security Act.
Step 6: The Decision
- The judge generally will not announce a decision at the hearing. However, we can sometimes tell from the general atmosphere of the hearing whether it appears that the decision will be favorable. A written decision will be sent to your lawyer and to you. It usually takes at least two to three months after the hearing to receive the decision, if not longer. You should always contact your lawyer after you have received a decision from the administrative law judge.
- If the decision is favorable, you should receive your first check approximately four to eight weeks after the decision.
- If the administrative law judge (ALJ) does not grant your application, you have other options. We can file a request for review with the Social Security Appeals Council. If they find that the ALJ made a poor decision or mistake during the hearing, they may require the ALJ to hold another hearing.
To schedule an appointment with an experienced Social Security disability lawyer, call 814-455-5362. There are no consultation fees and we charge no attorney’s fee unless we help you obtain benefits.