Application Process

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The process of applying for Social Security disability benefits is more complex than many people realize. However, because it takes so long for the Social Seurity Administration to review and evaluate the application and accompanying information, it is wise to apply as soon as possible to get the process started. Every day you wait is another day that you will lack the resources you could be receiving to meet your needs while you are unable to work.

At Burgess & Christensen, we can help you through each stage of the Social Security disability application process, whether you are applying for benefits through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program or the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. Our experienced team can assist in gathering and organizing information to demonstrate your eligibility, help prepare and file the application, and advocate on your behalf with an Administrative Law Judge. We work with you from start to finish until you obtain the full benefits to which you are entitled.

Determining Your Eligibility

People who expect to be unable to work for a year or more due to an injury, illness, or other debilitating condition may qualify to receive benefits through the Social Security Administration through two different programs. To be eligible, you must prove that you suffer from a severe disability, and you must also meet other qualifications.

For SSDI, you must have worked in a position where you paid payroll taxes in order to acquire credits of coverage. If you worked for an employer who deducted FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) taxes from your paycheck, then you’ve been paying this tax. If you were self-employed and paid self-employment tax, this also provides you credit toward SSDI benefits. Generally, you need about ten-years’ worth of work credits to establish eligibility, but the number of work credits needed can be significantly less for workers who became disabled at a younger age.

SSI is different. Instead of proving a work history, you must prove that you lack the resources and income to meet your basic needs. You will need financial records showing that you own less than $2,000 in income and resources ($3,000 if you are married), but this does not include the value of the home you live in, the vehicle you drive to get around, and your personal household goods.

If you meet the income or work requirements, the biggest challenge will be to demonstrate how and why your disability prevents you from working. Our team can assist with the process.

Preparing and Filing Your Application

You can submit your application for benefits online, over the phone, or at an appointment in person. You will need to provide information about your medical treatment and other evidence to show what your illness or injury is, how severe it is, how it impacts your ability to perform the type of work you’ve done in the past, and how it prevents you from doing other work.. We can help you gather persuasive evidence and present it in a way that satisfies the Administration’s expectations.

After the Administration approves your financial or work records, they will obtain your medical records and forward them to medical examiners at Georgia Disability Adjudication Services. They will review your records and may ask for additional information. This part of the process usually takes 6-9 months but could be longer due to backlogs. Very often, they deny applications at this stage, but there are more opportunities to achieve a successful outcome.

Seeking Reconsideration

If you receive notification that your application for benefits has been denied, you can request a reconsideration, which is a method of appealing the decision. You must request the reconsideration within 60 days of your denial, or you will have to start the process over again.

After you request reconsideration, medical examiners from either Disability Adjudication Services will review your materials again. You have the opportunity to submit additional evidence for consideration during this second review.

Administrative Hearing

When an reconsideration also results in the denial of a claim, you have the opportunity to ask for your case to be heard by an Administrative Law Judge at a hearing. Statistically, applicants are more likely to succeed at this stage in the application process.

Our team can help you prepare your best evidence and present your case in a manner that’s proven to be most effective in achieving advantageous results.

Let Burgess & Christensen Help You Throughout the Application Process

Whether your application is approved at the first stage or requires a hearing, the team at Burgess & Christensen is ready to work with you every step of the way. We do not receive a fee until you get approved for benefits and back pay, and we work on a contingent fee basis, so you will never pay hourly legal fees for our help.

We are dedicated to helping those who are unable to work due to a disability. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you.