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Q&A: Filing for disability with the Social Security Administration

Filing for disability with the Social Security Administration isn’t a simple task. While some may take it as such, the initial filing may be just the beginning of a long process which could include appeals, hearings and doctor visits. Harold W. Conick, an attorney with more than three decades of experience, answered some questions about how claimants should file their claims for Social Security Disability.

Where do you start when filing for disability?

You start with the initial application which can be filed either by claimant or filed by the claimant’s attorney. The only time the claimant’s attorney can’t file is for the supplemental security income claim. This has to be filed by the claimant alone. Thereafter, attorneys can file for SSI or SSDI.

What should people expect after filing?

On average, 85 percent the claims are denied on the initial app stage for both Social Security insurance and Social Security disability.

Why is this such a high number?

The high number is because in many cases, the files aren’t worked up sufficiently to get an approval. Also, I think think there is pressure on Social Security administrative officials not to be too quick to prove cases. That’s my opinion.

Why is that?

I think the general rule is society wants people to work, if at all possible. The exception is if you are entitled to disability payments. The feeling is if applying takes longer, that should shake out any claims of people who are able to get back to work in less than a year’s time. The ones who are not able to get back after a year are taken more seriously.

That seems frustrating. Should people apply by themselves or with an attorney initially?

They need to understand it is a long process, unless they’re seriously and terminally ill. People which are terminally ill generally have a chance of getting approved earlier. The majority of people who apply that are less obviously disabled move on to the hearing stage in front of an administrative judge. This happens with most of the claims. At that point the case is decided by judge at an in person or video hearing.

What are some common things that get claimants denied?

Many people don’t have enough medical evidence initially to approve their case. It either doesn’t exist or has not been submitted to SSA at that point. That takes time. If people are more prepared from beginning, they have a better chance of approval. It is a frustrating process. People tell us that they’re very frustrated by the lengthy delays. They are discouraged by the delays weather they are intended by the SSA or not.

Any other issues to know about filing?

Claimants should definitely not go to a hearing without a lawyer. The earlier they have a lawyer the better chance they have of prevailings. The claims become more difficult to win after the hearing stage That’s our best chance of winning.

The critical thing for people to understand is the government isn’t looking to give them disability payments. They need to have records, doctors on board, witnesses to why they can’t work and have patience. Applying can be a lengthy process.