You do not have to face the federal government on your own in your claim for Social Security Disability Insurance.

Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance, known as SSDI, is a complicated, often long procedure. The backlog of applications and appeals before the agency is notorious. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, applications have swelled because of the baby boom generation reaching older age and the economic consequences lingering from the recession.

Skilled legal counsel beneficial

The monetary benefits SSDI provides to a disabled person unable to sustain meaningful work can be a lifeline, so understanding and being prepared for the next step in the process is important. This is where an experienced SSDI attorney comes in.

The application and appeals process has several levels and each can take months to complete, so it is most helpful if you can provide all the medical and other evidence to support your claim early on. A knowledgeable lawyer will know how to develop the medical record such as by requesting your treating doctor’s statements or arranging medical examinations to further develop documentation of your impairments or symptoms.

The claim process consists of:

  • Initial application to the Social Security Administration (SSA)
  • Reconsideration of denied initial claim
  • Hearing before an administrative law judge, called an ALJ, an administrative (agency) employee, at which vocational or medical experts might testify as well as you and any witnesses you bring such as a family member who has observed limitations and symptoms caused by your impairments
  • Appeal to the SSA Appeals Council

You may submit evidence at any of these administrative levels, but your lawyer will create a robust medical record as early as possible, supplementing as appropriate. This increases the chances of an earlier approval.

If the Appeals Council still denies the claim, you may file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court to review the final SSA denial decision and the administrative record on which it was based. An attorney will know the applicable legal standards and how to present your case in a favorable light. You may not submit additional evidence to the court. The case is a review of whether the SSA’s decision denying your benefits was based on substantial evidence and whether the SSA made any legal errors.

This is a basic introduction to a complex area of law. A lawyer can answer your questions and provide guidance and representation.

Attorney Robyn Rebers of the law firm of Robyn M. Rebers LLC with appointment available in Tualatin and Clackamas, Oregon, represents SSDI and SSI claimants throughout the greater Portland area at all levels and with a wide variety of physical and mental impairments.