SIX STEPS TO GET YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY BENEFITS
STEP 1: Are You Covered? If you have worked over several years and paid taxes into Social Security, you may have earned enough quarters of coverage to be eligible to apply for Social Security disability benefits. To determine if you have earned enough quarters, simply go to https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/QC.html. If you need help, we can do this for you. If you do not have enough quarters of coverage, you still may be entitled to disability benefits but it is called Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and it is also administered by the Social Security disability program.
STEP 2: Apply for Disability. If you are covered (meaning you have earned enough quarters), you can go to any Social Security office or go on-line to www.ssa.gov and apply for these benefits. Or, you can come to the Law Office of John A Wilkerson, P.A. for a free consultation and we can make the application and submit it on your behalf.
STEP 3: Gathering the Evidence. Social Security Administration will obtain your medical records and also request information about your work history and education. We will make sure all the relevant evidence is presented to Social Security. If the medical evidence is insufficient, Social Security may send you to a doctor of their choice for an evaluation.
STEP 4: The Decision. Social Security will send you a decision in the mail. This will be either a “Notice of Unfavorable Decision” or a “Notice of Favorable Decision.” If it is Unfavorable, then you have the right to appeal that decision. This process can be very confusing. Our office can assist you in this appeal and file the appropriate documents on your behalf.
STEP 5: Reconsideration. This is the first appeal. Your case goes back to Disability Determination Service but to a different decision maker. If more evidence is needed, they will request it. If they have sufficient evidence, then they will reconsider the decision. If you receive another Unfavorable Decision, you have the right appeal that decision also.
STEP 6: Hearing before a Judge. This is the first appeal which you get to meet the decision maker during this process. At this appeal, you will be asked to attend a hearing with the Judge and present testimony. This level of appeal is where an attorney can be especially helpful. An attorney will be able to focus the Judge on your health conditions that prevent you from working and explain the necessity of assistance. An attorney will prepare medical records and argument and present your case to the Judge in the most effective way.
After working for many years and having health conditions prevent you from doing so any longer can be a stressful and despairing time. Let our attorneys help navigate you through the process of filing for Social Security Disability Benefits or Supplemental Security Income.
by John A. Wilkerson, Esquire