You should prepare your Application for SSDI very carefully. The Application becomes part of your SSA file, and it should be accurate and complete. If you obtain further medical treatment after the Application is submitted, provide the SSA with this new information as soon as possible. The SSA will contact the medical providers (doctors, therapists, psychologists, chiropractors, etc.) you list on your Application and will ask them to respond to questions concerning your medical condition, restrictions, and limitations. You should review your SSA file to see what your medical providers have told the SSA.
The SSA will notify you in writing that your application was granted or denied. Read the Notice which will accompany the SSA’s Decision carefully to determine what to do next.
Social security disability income (SSDI) is a benefit which the federal government provides to those who are found to be disabled according to legal standards set by federal law.
The disability standard for SSDI is different from the standards for workers’ compensation or no-fault insurance lost wage claims, both of which look to whether or not you can perform the duties of the job you were doing at the time of the accident which gave rise to those benefits. The SSDI standard is basically whether you can do any job that is available in sufficient numbers in the national labor market. That is a tough standard, and solid proof is required to meet it.
In determining whether you are entitled to SSDI the Social Security Administration (SSA) takes into account your education, work history, special training, computer skills, age, and physical and/or mental limitations and restrictions.
If your application is denied, do not be discouraged, and do not give up. In many states you can ask the SSA to reconsider its decision. If you are denied again after reconsideration, you can request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). In states (such as New York) that no longer have the reconsideration step, you ask for a hearing before the ALJ as soon as you receive the notice of denial from the SSA.
Make sure that you request a hearing before an ALJ within the time period set forth in the Notice accompanying the Decision. The time limit for requesting a hearing is presently 60 days, but time limits can change, so always go by the time limit in the Notice you receive from the SSA. Send your request for a hearing in a manner that will give you proof of when you sent it (such as certified mail, return receipt requested).
The ALJ will take a fresh look at your application, and will make his or her decision based upon not only the evidence in the file at the time of the initial denial, but also upon any additional evidence you submit prior to the hearing or at the hearing. If you have additional medical proof, submit it to the ALJ as soon as possible.
The ALJ will conduct the hearing as a neutral decision-maker. Although the ALJ is employed by the SSA, the ALJ is not an advocate for the SSA. You have the right to be represented by a lawyer at the hearing, and your lawyer can present evidence–written documents and oral testimony– and make legal arguments on your behalf.