Applying for Social Security Disability insurance is not an easy process! That’s why we encourage people to work with a social security attorney like the ones here at McCue Law Firm in Bangor. In our 35+ years of serving clients in Maine, we’ve helped hundreds of people apply for SSDI.
In today’s blog post, we’re outlining the steps in the application process and the materials you need to complete your application. Continue reading to learn more, visit our Social Security Disability Practice Area Page, and if you’d like to schedule a consultation with one of our social security attorneys, contact our law firm today!
Applying For Benefits
You should apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled, and you can even apply online. When applying for benefits, you’ll need the following information:
- Date and place of birth
- Social security number
- Name, social security number, and date of birth/age of your current spouse and any former spouses. You should also be able to provide the dates of marriage and, if applicable, the dates of divorce or death
- Names and dates of birth of your minor children, if you have children
- If you’d like your social security benefits to be electronically deposited, you’ll need our bank’s routing number and your account number
Once your information and medical records arrive, the examiner begins the review process to decide whether you qualify for social security disability insurance. They will try to answer the following questions about your case:
Are you currently working?
While this question has nothing to do with your medical condition, they will take into account whether you are working and how much you are working. A disability claimant cannot work more hours or earn more than an amount equal or greater to substantial gainful activity, or SGA. If you are making more than this amount, the examiner will assume that you’re not disabled enough to get benefits.
Does your condition meet a disability listing?
There is a list of official disabilities, and your medical records must indicate that your condition matches a disability on this list in order for you to be a benefit recipient. If you’re unsure of whether or not your medical condition is on the disability listing, contact one of our social security disability attorneys.
If Your Application Is Denied
Unfortunately, because so much information is needed to apply, applications are denied. Don’t give up! Over 50% of people give up once their initial claim is denied, but just because you were denied doesn’t mean that you don’t have a good case and could successfully get the SSDI benefits you need.
After a denial, you’ll need to find out why your case was denied. Hiring a disability lawyer can help you learn why your case was denied as well as help you appeal that denial.
You can file an appeal online and you need to appeal within 60 days of your denial. If you’ve been ill, in the hospital, or have other extenuating circumstances that caused you to miss the deadline, you may be able to file with a “good cause” exception. A social security disability attorney can be incredibly helpful in the appeal process.
If you miss that window, you’ll need to file a new SSDI claim. You may choose to file a medical reconsideration if your claim was denied because your condition wasn’t severe enough, or a non-medical reconsideration if your income or other error was the cause for your denial.
If you’ve been seen by a doctor recently or have new medical information, be sure to include that in your appeal. The new examiner may need more information to decide whether your condition is severe enough. If you left something out of your original application, you can add it in your appeal.
Administrative Hearing/Disability Hearing
You can appeal further by requesting a hearing before an administrative law judge, or ALJ. The judge will take a look at your claim and listen to you and a vocational expert to see whether you should be awarded SSDI benefits. While you have a better chance of winning benefits with a disability hearing, it can take a long time to get a hearing date.
Once You’ve Won
Congrats! You made it through the SSDI application process and have won your benefits! The amount of money you’ll receive will depend on how long you’ve been disabled and how much you’ve paid into social security while you were able to work.
Part of your disability award will include back pay, or what you should have been receiving while you were going through the application process. This amount will be paid to you in a lump sum, and if you went through a long appeals process, it can be quite a large amount of money.
You will receive SSDI benefits for as long as you remain disabled, so if your condition improves or you begin working above the SGA limit, you will no longer be able to receive benefits. You’ll need to complete a “continuing disability review” every few years to continue to receive your benefits.
McCue Law Office – Bangor-Based Law Firm
If you are in need of an experienced disability attorney, McCue Law Office can help. We have more than 35 years of experience serving clients in the state of Maine and we have attorneys with a wide range of specialties. When you choose to hire our law firm, there’s no risk to you, since we work on a contingency basis and don’t get paid unless you do. Schedule a free consultation and see what sets our law firm apart.