Social Security Disability -  Social Security Law A Brief Overview of The Social Security Disability Claims Process
The Social Security Disability claims process can have many steps depending on how many times your claim is rejected and you appeal. Overall, there are five stages, each with its own format, rules and decision makers. The first four stages are within the Social Security Administration, and the last stage is independent of the Social Security Administration.

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The initial stage takes place after you file a Social Security Disability claim with the Social Security office. Your original claim is reviewed by a disability examiner working at the Disability Determination agency in your state. This disability examiner will review your file, medical records, and other important information and consult with a doctor to determine if you are disabled and eligible for Social Security benefits. Unfortunately, the claimant will typically not know the identity of his or her disability examiner, and will have no personal contact with the examiner. Overall, approximately 60% of the claims at this stage are rejected.
If the disability examiner rejects your claim, which is very typical, you can request an appeal called “reconsideration.” Reconsideration, as the name suggests, is less like an appeal and more like asking Social Security to take a second look at your claim and “reconsider” its decision. As in the initial stage, another disability examiner in your local Disability Determination agency will review your claim and issue a decision. Also, as before, the claimant will not have any personal contact with the examiner. Generally, over 80% of the claims at this stage are rejected.
If the disability examiner rejects your claim after the reconsideration stage, the claimant can again appeal and request a hearing with an administrative law judge. At the hearing stage, the claimant will actually appear before a live judge in hopes of receiving a different decision. Though this might seem intimidating, this is typically the first place in which the claimant will be able to present his case and talk with the decision maker. The hearing is informal compared to most legal settings, and typically will include the claimant, the claimant’s attorney, the administrative law judge, a hearing reporter, and on occasion a vocational expert to testify regarding the availability of jobs. The hearing will not have a jury or an audience, and Social Security will not be represented by an attorney. After reviewing the claim, the judge will make an independent determination. Statistically, over half of the claims at this stage are successful.
If you are unsuccessful at the hearing stage, you can appeal to the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council is a single body located in Falls Church, Virginia, that you may ask to review the administrative law judge’s decision. The Appeals Council only reviews the judge’s decision and does not hear arguments from the claimant or claimant’s attorney. The appeals council will review and consider written arguements called briefs.
  If the claimant is rejected by the Appeals Council, you can take your case to the federal courts. The first court that will review a Social Securtiy Appeal is the United States District Court. Appeals to higher federal courts are possible but rarely taken. It’s important to remember that the United States District Court is the first appeal that is handled outside the Social Security bureaucracy.

As detailed above, the Social Security Disability claims process is complicated, tedious and time consuming. As with any difficult scenario, it is helpful to have experience on your side, and that’s exactly what we offer. The Law Office of Tracy Tyson Miller can help you navigate Social Security’s bureaucratic maze and save you time and heartache.

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