Who Decides if I am Disabled?

Who Decides if I am Disabled?

If you are disabled and apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, a doctor’s opinion about your disability is just an opinion. It does carry some weight, but it is not the defining factor in the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) disability decision. Your doctor’s medical evidence can be used to support your claim.

After you file your claim with SSA, your case is sent to a disability examiner. That examiner, working with a doctor, makes an initial decision on your claim. But at this initial stage, 75% of claims are denied.

If yours is denied as well, you need to file Form SSA-561, which is called the “Request for Reconsideration.” You have 60 days to complete the form and mail it in, but remember that it is 60 days from the date of decision, not the date you received the decision. When your Request for Reconsideration is filed, the case is sent to a different disability examiner, and he or she follows a similar process.

If your Request for Reconsideration is denied, you can request a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. This is the point at which many claims are approved. But the process can take anywhere between six months and several years to complete. Consider hiring an experienced SSD attorney to help you with your claim. He or she may not be able to speed up the process much, but he or she can help you ensure there are no unnecessary delays.