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Social Security Disability Process Flow Chart

Tips For A Successful Disability Claim

100% Disabled Rating from the VA. Easy Social Security Disability Win?

1. Continue Medical Treatment. Social security is much more likely to award you disability benefits if you can show you are trying to treat your impairment.

2. Get Your Doctors’ Help. If your doctor is willing to write a statement supporting your claim of disability, this will be a great advantage at the hearing level.

3. Apply Early. As you can see, the social security process can take a long time. You’ll want to apply as soon as possible to get benefits as quickly as you can.

4. Get Representation. If you’ve been denied benefits, it is especially helpful to have an attorney or advocate make your case for you. Having a professional handle your case gives you a much greater chance at an award.

Getting Help With Your Disability Case

If you wish to apply for social security benefits as a result of suffering from an impairment or disability, or if you’ve been denied benefits, it is in your best interests to get a lawyer’s help in doing so. A lawyer can explain to you exactly what requirements you have to meet and can assist you in all the steps of convincing the SSA that you are deserving of benefits.

What Clients Have To Say

I would refer anyone to Hankey Law Office. I have nothing to say but a group of excellent people. Anytime I had any questions is all I had to do was call my rep and they would get back with me within 24 hours with my answer. I would like to personally thank Hankey and his staff for making this such a great experience!!!! I can never thank you enough.

I had been denied my Social Security the first time about 12 years ago. I gave up, I didn’t file an appeal. UI did everything I could to work and help with our expenses, to no avail. About 3 years ago I felt forced to try to file again, even encouraged by my Dr. Again, I was denied. But this time I didn’t give up. I needed the help and I believed by law I should have it. So I called Hankey Law. I was skeptical at first and my husband was even more so. The wait for a hearing is beyond crazy and there is very little anyone can do to speed it up. During the wait the Hankey team was there to help with my anxiety and impatient fears. They continued to keep my medical information current. We finally went to court, twice The Hankey Team was there all the way to the end and then some. We won!!! I couldn’t just thank 1 or 2 people at Hanky they really are a team. We used to snicker when Mr. Hanky said in those commercials “We hope you never need us, but if do we’re here when need us”. I’m not sure that’s the exact quote but it’s 100% true. I’m very grateful they were there when I needed them.

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Table Of Acronyms On Flow Chart

The detailed flow chart uses a number of acronyms and abbreviations to indicate personnel, offices, and events. These are described in the table below.

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Identifying The Sequential Steps Using Regulation Basis Codes

What We Do to Develop Your Social Security Disability Claim

The detailed RBC values are somewhat different for DI and SSI and, because they include a number of administrative outcomes, are considerably more detailed than the sequential determination steps might suggest.

We recode the individual regulation basis values into sequential disability determination steps in Tables 1 through 3. In deriving the recode, we consulted program experts and the documentation from Social Security administrative sourcesthe basis for day-to-day use of RBCs by program administrators. We also compared coding from other sources by examining the coding that is used in annual SSA publications. Specifically, the Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program classifies medical decisions at step 2 onward for DI determinations. The SSI Annual Statistical Report does a similar classification for SSI determinations. In addition, we prepared the coding that was used in several analytical studies, including Lahiri, Vaughan, and Wixon Hu and others Dwyer and others Lahiri, Song, and Wixon and Autor and others . We also compared those different coding schemes and consolidated differences.17 These comparisons establish the broad consistency of the recode presented here with documentation from program administrators, published tables, and recent analyses.

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Medical Assessment As Needed

Some impairments are so severe that they already meet the requirements of the Listings, and further processing and assessment is not needed. Others require the disability evaluation specialist to assess the limitations of the impairment, vocational experience, age, and education to determine if the person is eligible for disability. The case also may be reviewed by a medical or psychological consultant, who is a licensed doctor contracted by our agency.

If necessary, the disability evaluation specialist then contacts relevant medical sources for documentation of the impairments. It also may be necessary to schedule consultative exams for claimants. These exams help determine what functional limitations may result from an individual’s impairment they are not for providing further medical treatment.

When sufficient medical evidence has been gathered, the disability evaluation specialist will use the “Listing of Impairments” as a guide to determine if the individual qualifies for disability benefits.

The Social Security Disability Claims Process

  • Initial Social Security Disability application filed with the Disability Determination Bureau.

  • If denied, Reconsideration Appeal filed with the Disability Determination Bureau.

  • If denied, Hearing Requested with the Office of Hearing Operations.

  • Hearing is held before an Administrative Law Judge.

  • If denied, Appeal is filed with the Social Security Administrations Appeals Council.

  • If denied, lawsuit is filed in Federal Court.

  • Hire the Hankey Law Office at any of these stages to reduce your risk of being denied benefits.

  • SSD Claims Process Flowchart

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Qualifying For Disability Benefits

The first step in the process of getting disability benefits is making sure you qualify for those benefits. There are many different criteria looked at by the SSA. Some of the factors that may be considered include the following:

Whether you are capable of substantial gainful activity. This refers to whether you are working and earning an income. The amount you may earn changes yearly, but as of 2021, if you are making an income of more than $1,310 per month, you can be considered to be engaged in substantial gainful activity.

Whether you have a disability that is expected to last for 12 months, that already has lasted that long, or that is terminal.

Whether your disability is listed in the SSA “blue book” listing of impairments and you meet the specific symptoms that must accompany that particular disability or whether your condition is medically equivalent to the disabilities listed.

Whether your disability interferes with your ability to perform routine activities of daily living like showering, bathing, dressing or otherwise caring for yourself.

Whether your disability interferes with your ability to work at the job you have now, a job you have had in the past, or a job to which your vocational skills may be able to be transferred.

Fact #: Social Security Is More Than Just A Retirement Program It Also Provides Important Life Insurance And Disability Insurance Protection

Medical Conditions that LOSE in Social Security Disability! Must See.

Over 65 million people, or more than 1 in every 6 U.S. residents, collected Social Security benefits in January 2022. While older adults make up about 4 in 5 beneficiaries, another one-fifth of beneficiaries received Social Security Disability Insurance or were young survivors of deceased workers.

In addition to Social Securitys retirement benefits, workers earn life insurance and SSDI protection by making Social Security payroll tax contributions:

  • About 96 percent of people aged 20-49 who worked in jobs covered by Social Security in 2020 have earned life insurance protection through Social Security.
  • For a young worker with average earnings, a spouse, and two children, thats equivalent to a life insurance policy with a face value of nearly $800,000 in 2020, according to Social Securitys actuaries.
  • About 89 percent of people aged 21-64 who worked in covered employment in 2020 are insured through Social Security in case of severe disability.

The risk of disability or premature death is greater than many people realize. Some 7 percent of recent entrants to the labor force will die before reaching the full retirement age, and many more will become disabled.

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Key To Symbols On Flow Chart

The detailed flow chart uses a number of symbols to indicate tasks, activities, work flow, and elapsed time. The symbols are described in this section.

The rectangular blocks represent the tasks in the initial determination and appeals processes. The color of the blocks indicates the component responsible for those tasks

SSA’s field operations are shown in blue. Applicants contact a Social Security teleservice center or field office to begin the application process. A field office employee interviews the applicant and assists in gathering some of the information necessary to show that he or she meets the requirements for disability benefits. Employees in the field office also help applicants file appeals. Following a favorable disability determination, the field office completes work on the application and initiates payment.

The Disability Determination Services are shown in green. The DDS in the home state of the applicant makes the initial disability determination. They secure medical evidence from the applicant’s treating and other medical sources, and arrange for one or more consultative examinations if there is not enough evidence to make a decision. DDS employees gather information from the applicant and other sources and evaluate all the information to arrive at a disability determination. The DDS is also responsible for making the disability determination at the first appeal levelthe reconsideration.

Ssa’s Disability Determination Process

The disability determination process described in this study is used by Social Security field offices and state DDS agencies to make initial disability determinations. Field offices implement step 1 of the five-step disability determination process, and DDS agencies are responsible for the medical determinations at steps 25. The specific criteria used by the DDS in its allow/deny determinations are identified in the RBC, which is included in the NDDSS data generated by DDS agencies. The RBC describes the basis for initial determinations and reconsiderations. Outcomes of higher-level appeals, such as decisions of ALJs, are in principle, based on the same criteria as DDS determinations, but such appeals decisions are not included in the NDDSS data generated by DDS agencies. ALJ-level decisions are recorded in the Case Processing and Management System.

Former Commissioner Robert M. Ball provides an insight that is useful in trying to understand the design of the determination process. For the sake of efficiency, the process implies a screening strategy:

The idea was to screen quickly the large majority of cases that could be allowed on reasonably objective medical tests and then deal individually with the troublesome cases that didn’t pass the screen.

For example, the first three stages of the adult disability determination process represent screens:

Because the processes for adults and children differ, we discuss them separately.

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If Youve Been Denied Disability How Can You Make Your Case

Im attorney Marc Whitehead, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law by the National Board of Social Security Disability Advocacy.

Give me a call at and find out exactly how we can help you with your Social Security disability claim.

Every disability claim has its own set of special circumstances that influence the outcome. There are also exceptions to the Social Security Disability evaluation process. When you are up against Social Security regulations and the complicated appeals process, you need an attorney behind you with the experience and skills to deal with the system and win the benefits you deserve.

Personal Injury And Other Practice Areas

Research: Identifying SSA

For decades, our office has been diligently representing individuals who have been injured by the negligence of others. Our experienced legal team has handled a wide range of personal injury cases, including car accidents, dog bites, slip and falls, and premises liability.

When someone suffers an injury at the negligent hands of another party, they should not have to suffer through the consequences alone. You never expected for this to happen, and now you are forced to deal with an insurance company who is fighting against you. We have a whole team of attorneys and legal professionals standing ready to come alongside of you, look out for your best interest, and fight the insurance company for you. Our consultations are always free, and we are only paid when we win your case.

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Fact #: Social Security Is Particularly Important For People Of Color

Social Security is a particularly important source of income for groups with low earnings and less opportunity to save and earn pensions, including Black and Latino workers and their families, who face higher poverty rates during their working lives and in old age. The poverty rate among Black and Latino older adults is roughly 2.5 times as high as for white seniors. There is a significant racial retirement wealth gap, leading older adults of color to face more retirement insecurity than their white counterparts. Black and Latino workers are less likely to be offered workplace retirement plans, and they are likelier to work in low-wage jobs with little margin for savings. Social Security helps reduce the economic disparities between older white adults and older adults of color.

Third Appeal Appeals Council

If the decision made by the ALJ is unfavorable, you may file a request to have your claim reviewed by the Appeals Council. Your representative may submit written arguments in support of your claim. The Appeals Council will perform one of three actions: deny your request for a review order another hearing to be held or decide in your favor. It may take 1 year or more for you to receive a decision from the Appeals Council. If the decision is unfavorable you have 60 days to file an appeal in Federal District Court.

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Can You Do Any Other Type Of Work

If we decide you cannot do the work you did before, we consider your remaining ability to do other work considering your age, education and work experience. We assess these factors with your capacityto work to determine if you can be expected to adjust to other work that existsin the national economy.

We consider how many years of school you have completed and whether you have completed any type of special job training, trade or vocational school when we assess your ability to adjust to other work. However, absence of formal education does not necessarily mean you are uneducated or limited in your ability to adjust to work. We will consider strong evidence that your educational achievement is higher or lower than the last grade you completed.

We generally consider illiteracy and inability to communicate in English as an educational factor that limits an individuals ability to adjust to other work.

We consider your chronological age in combination with your residual functional capacity, education, and work experience. We will not consider your ability to adjust to other work on the basis of your age alone. In determining the extent to which age affects your ability to adjust to other work, we consider advancing age to be an increasingly limiting factor in your ability to make an adjustment to other work.

How Much Does An Attorney Cost

2023 VA Disability Pay Chart and Compensation Rates

At Hankey Law Office, our consultations are always free. If we are able to take your case, we work on a contingency basis. This means that we only get paid when we win your claim. Our guiding principles are simple: we strive to treat each client in the same way we would want our families to be treated if they were going through this process. Everyone deserves respect, compassion, and the ability to present the best legal case possible. We are ready to go to work for you, and fight on your behalf. Call us for a free consultation today at

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Social Security Disability Determination Services

  • Social Security Disability Insurance
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Call or visit any Social Security office to schedule an appointment. You can locate the SSA field office closest to you via this link,
  • Contact SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 .

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