The Social Security Disability Process
What to Expect with Your SSDI or SSI Claim in Pennsylvania
The Social Security disability (SSD) process can be a highly complex and time-consuming one. Claimants often find themselves facing various roadblocks that stand between them and their benefits. At Metzger Wickersham, we understand just how frustrating this is, which is why we are here to assist you at every stage of the process.
Here, we have put together a general outline of the SSD process, as well as what you can expect when filing for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Continue reading to learn more about filing for SSD in Pennsylvania or contact us directly to discuss your unique case with one of our experienced Social Security disability lawyers. We are available to assist you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can provide the answers and information you need to move forward with your claim.
Determining If You Are Eligible for Benefits
The first step in the SSD process is determining if you are eligible for Social Security disability benefits and, if so, which benefits you are entitled to receive.
Social Security offers two benefits programs:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have an eligible medical condition that prevents you from working. This condition must meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of a “disability.” Next, you must have earned enough work credits, meaning you worked enough jobs that were covered by Social Security for enough time.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI): To qualify for SSI benefits, you do not need any work credits. Instead, you must have a qualifying medical condition that is considered a “disability,” be over the age of 65, or be blind, and you must have limited income, assets, and resources. Additionally, SSI is only available to U.S. citizens, nationals, and certain immigrants.
Once you have completed and submitted your Social Security disability application, the field office where you filed your claim will send your application to The Bureau of Disability Determination (BDD).
When to File an SSD Application
If you become disabled and are unable to work, or if you have never been able to work due to a disability, you should file for Social Security disability benefits right away. The sooner you file your initial application, the sooner the process can begin. It can take several months for your application to be approved and your benefits to begin, so you should not delay in filing your claim.
Additionally, the Social Security Administration denies many first-time claims, which means you may have to wait even longer to start receiving benefits. If your initial claim is denied, you have the option of filing an appeal, but this process can also be quite lengthy.
What Happens After You File an SSD Application?
Once you have completed and submitted your Social Security disability application, the field office where you filed your claim will send your application to the BDD. The BDD is responsible for evaluating your application and determining whether you are disabled or blind according to the law. This is done after the Social Security Administration determines that you meet the basic eligibility requirements to file for SSD benefits.
The BDD will typically gather evidence from your medical providers when deciding on your claim. If it is unable to gather such evidence, or if the evidence is insufficient, the BDD may schedule a “consultative examination.” Typically, the BDD will try to contact your treating physician to complete the consultative examination, but it may use an independent third party if necessary.
Once enough evidence has been gathered, the BDD will decide on your claim, either accepting it and initiating benefits or denying it. If the BDD denies your application, it will keep it on file in the event that you decide to file an appeal.
What to Do If Your SSD Application Was Denied
If your SSD claim is denied, you will receive a letter by mail informing you of this decision. If you wish to appeal the BDD’s denial of your claim, you only have 60 days from the date on which you receive the notice of denial by mail to request an appeal. Additionally, this request must be made in writing and delivered to any Social Security office in the state.
We strongly recommend that you reach out to an attorney at this point if you have not already done so. The SSD appeals process involves numerous steps, including gathering relevant evidence, requesting a reconsideration determination, and possibly appearing at a hearing before an administrative law judge. An experienced attorney, like those at Metzger Wickersham, can help you properly prepare for and navigate this process, all while advocating tirelessly for the benefits you are owed.
Contact Metzger Wickersham for Help with Your SSD Claim
Wherever you are in the Social Security disability process, our firm can help. Whether you have recently become disabled and need help filing your initial application, are unsure whether you qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits, or have already had your claim denied by the BDD, our Pennsylvania Social Security disability lawyers are here to provide the personalized guidance and counsel you need.
Our firm has been serving the people of Pennsylvania since 1888, offering compassionate, client-focused service for more than 130 years. We have multiple offices located throughout the state and can travel to meet you wherever is most convenient.
When you are unable to work due to a debilitating medical condition, you are already under enough stress. Allow our team to handle the details of your case while you focus on getting the treatment and care you need. We are aggressive when it comes to fighting for the maximum benefits our clients are owed, and we never back down from any legal challenge.