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Disability Lawyers Oklahoma City

If you or someone you love suffers from a condition or disease that simply prevents any realistic opportunity from earning a viable income, you obviously face a lot of stress for many different reasons. Luckily, there are options available to you, and one of those is obtaining benefits from the Social Security Administration.

However, it should be noted that the disability process that is required to receive benefits is quite involved, which is why you will need the guidance and experience of a social security benefits lawyer working with you and for you. Below is a brief overview of the disability process, and in order to get this process started, you need to contact the firm today to schedule an initial consultation.

The Application

The disability process always begins with the completion of the original application that you can obtain either from your nearest Social Security Administration office or online. When your application is completed and submitted to the SSA, it is forwarded to the Disability Determination Services, or DDS.

The DDS is staffed with disability examiners, and when an individual working for DDS receives your application, he or she begins the documentation process by examining your file and application and sending written requests to those named on your application to receive your relevant medical records. Of course, you can expedite this process, which can otherwise take months given the back-log of claims, by gathering and obtaining these records yourself and including them with your application. Based on the documentation available, the DDS will make a determination of your eligibility for benefits. Unfortunately, statistics show that the majority of these claims are initially denied.

Request for Reconsideration

At this point, the disability process continues with more of the same – you will complete a form that requests the SSA to reconsider your original application, and at this time you can repeat your original reasons for your need for benefits and include additional evidence, records and statements that bolster your claim that you are entitled to disability benefits based on any of several determining factors. Unfortunately, as is common with every step of the disability process, this step can take weeks or sometimes even months to be completed.

Request a Hearing

Given that only about 20 percent of requests for reconsideration are actually overturned and benefits awarded, you should anticipate having to take the next step in the disability process, which is requesting a hearing regarding your disability. There is a form that you’ll need to complete for this step as well.

Unfortunately, this can also be an extremely long step in the disability process, as the dockets for these hearings are very packed. You can expect to wait months or even more than a year in some cases for your hearing to occur, which is why if you are denied benefits up until this point, you need to request a hearing as soon as possible.

The Hearing

The hearing is clearly a critical component of the disability process, as this is your chance to present your best possible position in-person and with the help of witnesses, evidence and your social security disability attorney. When you work with an attorney, you’ll soon realize that the preparation for this hearing is much like preparing for a trial.

At the hearing, an Administrative Law Judge, or ALJ, will preside over the proceedings and receive the evidence he or she will need for a decision. This evidence will include all of the documentation that is already in place in your case file, any additional evidence gathered at the hearing including additional documentation and statements from witnesses, as well as any additional statements you wish to make. 

You need to allow your social security attorney to manage this step of the process quite closely, as he or she will help you organize the presentation of this evidence, will understand which questions to ask of witnesses, how to explain any potential weaknesses in your position and finally to summarize your case with a closing statement.

Appeal / Appeals

Finally, after the hearing is complete and the ALJ has issued a written decision, you will either be approved for benefits or denied. If you are denied benefits, which once again is quite common, the disability process continues with appeals. These appeals go through several channels. The first appeal forum after a decision of denial by the ALJ goes through the Appeals Council of the SSA, which is similar to an appeal in a court of law. The Council will consider all evidence and the merits of the ALJ’s decision and formulate its own decision. If the Council upholds the ALJ’s decision, you have exhausted all administrative remedies and need to take one final step. This final step is filing an appeal in federal court. This is a rare step, and a difficult one to handle successfully, but your benefits lawyer will help you decide how to proceed at that point. 

Basically, the disability process can continue as long as you continue to fight or until you obtain the benefits you need.

Your Next Step

As you see, the disability process with the Social Security Administration is long and involved. In order to provide yourself with the best possible chance to obtain benefits, you need to contact Privett Law today to get this process started.