Claims Process

SSD applications are taken at all Social Security offices. They may also be filed by phone at 1-800-772-1213, or online at

It is prudent to retain a Social Security disability attorney before filing an application. SSD claims are considerably more complicated than generally thought.  Mistakes made during the application process often result in claim denial.  Worse, they become a permanent part of the claim record and can doom the chances of success on appeal.

SSD applications require attention to detail and knowledge of what Social Security is looking for. Careful preparation of the initial claim information is critical. It is foolish and risky to go it alone.

It generally takes Social Security 2-4 months to make a determination on new claims. Much of that time is spent collecting and analyzing an applicant’s medical records and claim information. It is not uncommon for Social Security to require an applicant to undergo one or more independent medical examinations as part of the process.

After completing its evaluation, Social Security issues a written notice stating whether the claim is approved or disapproved. If approved, benefit payments are initiated automatically.

Applicants whose claims are denied have the right to request a reconsideration. The request must be filed within 60 days of the date they receive the initial denial notice.

It's relatively rare but not unheard of for Social Security to approve a previously denied claim on reconsideration.  Most of the time, the decision confirms the earlier denial.

Following receipt of an adverse determination on reconsideration, an applicant has the right to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.  The request must be filed within 60 days of the date the reconsideration determination is received.  

Applicants who request a hearing are in for a long wait. There is a nationwide backlog of hearing requests, and it now takes up to two years to obtain a hearing.

Fortunately, it is sometimes possible to avoid waiting so long by taking advantage of opportunities for pre-hearing adjudication.  This requires the help of a capable lawyer who understands how the system works, and is willing to put in the additional time required to assemble a detailed and persuasive record that warrants early action.