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Claims Process

Initial Claim: 


The claimant must submit an initial application for the program(s) you qualify for with the SSA. To apply for Social Security Disability (SSDI) or SSI benefits based on disability, a person must first make a claim (fill out an application). This is done by contacting the Social Security office, either by phone or by visiting a local office, or online at


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Your claim will be reviewed by the Disability Determination Bureau (DDB).  It normally takes an average of 6-8 months to receive a decision. Claims are assigned to disability specialists known as disability claims examiners who make the initial decisions on Social Security cases. In the course of working on a claim for SSDI or SSI, a disability examiner may do one or more of the following:

  • Send letters to the claimant's medical sources (doctors, hospitals, and clinics) to request medical records.

  • Make calls to the claimant, or the claimant's friends or relatives, to gather information about the claimant's conditions. 

  • Speak with medical specialists (physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists) employed by Disability Determination Services (required in most states). 

  • Send the claimant to a medical examination paid for by DDB if there is not enough information in the claimant's medical records on which to make a decision.


If you receive a “Notice of Disapproved Claim,” don’t be discouraged, because only a small number of applications are approved at the initial level.  If you have been denied, it is important to file an appeal:


Request for Reconsideration Process:


You have 60 days from the date of your denial letter to file your “Request for Reconsideration,” which is the first appeal in the process. The DDB will update your medical records, and the same state agency that reviewed your case at the initial level will review your updated case.  If you receive a notice denying your claim, again, you will have 60 days to file the “Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge.”  The majority of people who win their disability claims have won it at the hearing level, so do not be discouraged!

Contact our office today and learn more about your rights.


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Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge:


As stated above, you have 60 days from the date of your denial letter to file your “Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge.” If you have not retained an attorney by now, it is important that you do so. Though the DDB obtained all of your medical records at the two previous levels, they will not update them at the hearing level. It is currently taking approximately 18 months from the date this request is filed to obtain a hearing date, which means there will be more medical records that must be obtained, and submitted into evidence.  You will also have to present your disability case, as well as answer the judge’s questions at the hearing. Some judges will continue your hearing if you do not appear with an attorney. This continuance can cause a several-month delay in the process.


Finding a Social Security Disability Attorney and Preparing for

a Hearing


Your hearing will be held at your local SSA Hearings office. You should be advised that the laws and regulations that govern the SSDI and SSI are quite complex. The Disability Benefits Law Center attorneys and staff will help you at each level and in preparing you for your hearing. We will also gather both past and current medical records to submit as evidence in court. Many times a vocational expert or medical expert will be called by the Judge to give his/her opinion as to your disabling condition. That person will review all of the medical records submitted into evidence. Our attorneys will have the opportunity to cross examine these experts and will also present arguments to the Judge. The simple fact is that people who are represented by attorneys are approved at a much higher rate than claimants who handle their hearing alone.


At the Disability Benefits Law Center, we practice only Social Security Disability law, and we have the experience and success needed to assist you in gaining the disability benefits you deserve.