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  • SSDI and SSI Process and Timeline

    If you or a loved one is disabled from work due to a medical condition, you may be able to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. In addition, Supplemental Social Security Income (SSI) might also be granted if you meet certain income requirements. Both are federal programs run by the Social Security Administration (SSA). 

    You should apply for SSI and SSDI benefits as soon as you learn that you will be unable to work for at least 12 months. It may take several months for the Social Security Administration to process your application:

    • There is a five-month waiting period for SSDI benefits. Payments will not begin before the sixth full month of disability. The SSDI waiting period begins the first full month after the date the Social Security Administration decides your eligibility. 
    • Note that there is no waiting period if your disability is due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and you are approved for SSDI benefits on or after July 23, 2020.

    To apply for disability benefits, you must complete an application for Social Security Benefits and the Disability Report. You can complete documents online if you:

    • Are age 18 or older
    • Are not currently receiving benefits on your own Social Security record
    • Are unable to work because of a medical condition that is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death, and
    • Have not been denied disability benefits in the last 60 days. 

    You may benefit from having an attorney complete the application process for you.

    The Claim Process

    Once you have applied, here is the general process:

    1. SSA first reviews the application to determine if the applicant meets the basic eligibility requirements.  
    2. Eligible applications are then forwarded to Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Disability Determination (BDD) to determine medical eligibility under Social Security law. 
    3. The BDD requests and reviews information from the applicant’s doctors, hospitals, and medical providers, including:
      1. Nature of medical condition
      2. When condition began
      3. Limitations due to the medical condition
      4. Outcome of medical tests
      5. Treatments you have received and outcomes
    4. The BDD may also ask medical providers about your ability to walk, sit, lift, carry, and remember instructions. They are not asked to decide if you are disabled. 
    5. If additional information is needed, the BDD will schedule special consultative examinations at no cost to you. 
    6. The BDD makes its decision on whether to approve or deny your application. 
    7. This process can take 90 days to 180 days

    The Reconsideration Process

    If your claim is denied, you can file for reconsideration. You must make the request online or in writing. It must be delivered to your local Social Security office within 60 days of the date you receive the denial letter. 

    Once your reconsideration is received, another adjudicator at BDD will be assigned and the claim will be again reviewed.  This process can also take 90-180 days. 

    The Appeals Process

    If BDD again denies your reconsideration, you have 60 days to file an appeal and a request for a hearing. This can be done online or at the local Social Security Office. A hearing will be scheduled for you. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will hear your case. Be forewarned that it may take several months before a judge can hear your case due to backlogs. 

    Before appealing a denial, it may be good to consult with a lawyer experienced with SSDI/SSI claims. They can ensure that your appeal is submitted correctly and thoroughly. As you wait for your hearing, they can also help you prepare for your testimony before a judge. They know the process, the problems, and the pitfalls. They can be a valuable resource for you. 

    If a judge rules against you, there are still options. A disabled person, in many cases, can ask the Social Security Appeals Council to reconsider the judge’s decision. Your lawyer will need to provide legal reasons why the judge’s decision was invalid or unfair under Social Security or precedent law. 

    If the Social Security Appeals Council rules against you, your final recourse is to file a lawsuit in federal district court.

    Contact the Philadelphia Social Security Disability Lawyers at Galfand Berger Today if You Need Benefits

    The Philadelphia Social Security disability lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP advocate for victims who can no longer work due to permanent injury or illness. If this is you or a loved one, we are happy to answer any questions and review your case for free. Please call us at 1-800-222-USWA (8792) or complete our short contact form, and a member of our firm will contact you. We serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania from our Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading offices. There is no fee unless we recover for you.