If you are new to the Social Security system, the process for applying and receiving Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits will seem complicated, time-consuming and frustrating. What’s worse, the vast majority of applications are denied, requiring you to go deeper into the system to fight that denial and get the benefits you need and deserve. Every step of the process is important, and you can benefit from having legal assistance at every step for the best chance of success. New York attorney Peter Cordovano has decades of experience helping people get their disability benefits and can be of invaluable help to you in this process.
Below is a brief overview of the process for applying for, and ultimately receiving, Social Security Disability benefits.
File your application at your local SSA field office – You will want to include a list of all the different sources of medical treatment you have had and include a list of all the jobs you have had for the past 15 years. Bring all the information you have with you to your application interview, including any documentation you have regarding both your medical records and employment records. SSA will review your application and interview forms and verify all of the non-medical information, and then send your file to the Division of Disability Determinations.
The NYS Division of Disability Determinations (DDD) reviews your medical records and other sources to decide whether your disability affects your ability to work within the strict definitions of Social Security.
Consultative Exam (CE) – If the information provided by your treating physician is not enough for DDD to make a determination about your disability, they may order additional exams. You do not have to pay for any CEs – the providers bill DDD directly – but you do need to submit to CEs as requested.
Once DDD makes its determination, the file is sent back to the SSA. If DDD determined you were disabled, you may begin receiving benefits from SSA.
If your claim was denied, you have 60 days from receipt of the denial letter to initiate the appeals process. There are four levels of appeal in the SSD system:
Reconsideration – Reconsideration involves a complete review of your entire claim. This is like having someone make the initial determination all over again, so even parts of the original decision which were favorable to you may not be viewed in the same way by the new reviewer. If you have new evidence that wasn’t submitted the first time, it may be included here. It is not necessary to be present for a Reconsideration, but you will want to have an attorney carefully review all of your documents and the initial decision before submitting your claim for reconsideration. If you did not have legal help in filing your initial application, you will want to bring one in at this stage to hopefully get a favorable decision as soon as possible.
Administrative Law Judge Hearing – If the reconsideration is not in your favor, you can request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). You will want to attend this hearing in person or by video conference. Your attorney can represent you in this hearing by presenting witnesses and other evidence, including any new information which may not have been previously submitted.
Appeals Council Review– If the ALJ decision is not favorable, you can seek review of the decision by the Social Security Appeals Council. Several things can happen at this stage. The Appeals Council may deny your request for review; they may take your case and review it; or they may send the case back to the ALJ for further review.
Federal Court – If the Appeals Council turned down your request, or if they took your case but did not rule in your favor, you have the option of filing a lawsuit in federal district court. The decision of the district court can itself be appealed to the federal circuit court of appeals, and theoretically to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The road to obtaining Social Security Disability benefits can be long and difficult. Attorney Peter Cordovano has been down that road for his clients countless times and can provide you with the kind of advice and representation you need for success. In Ulster, Orange and Dutchess counties and throughout the mid-Hudson Valley, contact Peter M. Cordovano, P.C. in Highland for help with your SSD application.