The first step is to apply for SSDI and/or SSI benefits. This is called the Initial Application stage. The initial application can be completed at the local SSA office, by phone, or online at www.ssa.gov
. Information will be needed regarding your medical history, names and addresses of doctors and hospitals, work history and the names of employers for the past fifteen years, resources (assistance, income, assets, etc.), and personal information (including social security numbers of you and your dependents, dates and locations of marriages and divorces) . Once your application is complete and filed with the SSA, it usually takes one to five (1-5) months for a decision to be made or your initial application. The SSA has contracted with the state Disability Determination Service (DDS) (in Florida, the Office of Disability Determinations (under the Dept. of Health) to make the determination as to whether an individual is disabled. During this period, the DDS will collect your medical records, evaluate records that you have provided, have you complete many forms about work history, your pain and ability to function, and may require you to see a physician in order to make their decision. Once DDS makes a decision on your initial application, you will receive a letter stating you have been accepted (favorable) or denied. If you have been accepted, you will receive a Notice of Award detailing the SSDI and/or SSI benefits you have been awarded and the amount of your monthly payments. If you have been denied, you will have sixty (60) days to file an appeal called a “Request a Reconsideration”.
The second step is to formally request a reconsideration of you claim within sixty (60) days of your initial application denial letter. The reconsideration can also be requested at your local SSA office or online at www.ssa.gov
. You will need to have your initial application denial letter in order to complete the reconsideration request. The reconsideration process takes two to three (2-3) additional months and again, the disability determination is made by the state Disability Determination Service (DDS). During the reconsideration process, the DDS may also request additional information or require you to see a physician in order to make their decision. Once the DDS makes a decision on your reconsideration, you will receive a letter stating you have been accepted (favorable) or denied. If you have been accepted, you will receive a Notice of Award detailing the SSDI and/or SSI benefits you have been awarded and the amount of your monthly payments. If you have been denied, you will have sixty (60) days to file the second appeal in the process called a “Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge”.
When the Request for Hearing is filed, the file gets transferred to the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) which is within the Social Security Administration. It can take anywhere from 6 month to 24 months before a hearing will be held before an Administrative Law Judge depending upon what area of the country you are in.