The Social Security Disability process can be a long and frustrating process. In addition the process can simply be confusing. If nothing else, it is nice to at least understand the procedural steps that go about each Social Security Disability case. If a case goes through each of the steps, there are usually a total of four steps that the case will follow: initial claims, reconsideration, request for hearing (pre-hearing), and request for hearing (post-hearing).
- Initial Claims- The initial claims level is the first step in a Social Security Disability case. This case requires several forms to be sent in first to the Social Security office and then to the Disability Determination Services office. These two offices will make sure that you qualify for disability both technically and medically. If you are approved you do not go through the next steps, but if you are denied (most cases are denied), then the next steps are applicable.
- Reconsideration- If you are denied at the IC level, then you will then appeal the IC decision at the reconsideration level. The case will go through the same steps as with the initial claim, but you a new Social Security examiner will analyze your case. They will determine whether you are both technically and medically qualified. If at the reconsideration level you are deemed disabled then you have won your case and the next steps do not apply to you. If you are denied, the next two steps will apply to you.
- RFH Pre-hearing- Next we move into the pre-hearing stage of a Social Security case. This is the stage that is moved from local to hearing offices. A judge and experts will be assigned, any last minutes medical updates will be added, and a legal brief (if necessary) will also be added. The hearing will be scheduled and you will have the opportunity to explain your situation in front of a judge and for the first time truly have a voice. A decision will not be made immediately, so the next step certainly applies to you if you make it to the pre-hearing stage.
- RFH Post-hearing- The post hearing will occur and a couple extra documents may be requested, but you finally get the final decision after the hearing. If you win your case, your claim goes through a final processing stage and within a couple of months you will receive a check. If you lose, you have two options, either file and appeal within 60 days, or you can refile your case from the initial claims level.
While this information can work as a timeline, each case is different. If you need more information or if you have questions about your case specifically, contact an attorney who specializes in Social Security. He or she will be able to help you understand the stages in the Social Security process and can help you with your Social Security case.