Area of Law:
The Social Security Administration, or SSA, provides monthly disability benefits for individuals that suffer from a mental or physical condition that influences their ability to maintain employment. Therefore, if you suffer from such a condition, you may be eligible to receive these benefits. However, to receive Social Security disability benefits, you must complete an application and have the request approved by the Social Security Administration, or SSA. You can find disability benefit application on the SSA’s website, https://secure.ssa.gov/iCLM/dib, or you can request an application by phone or in person at the Austin Social Security office.
It is necessary to complete two forms when applying for disability benefits: a disability application and an Authorization to Disclose Information Form. The Authorization to Disclose Information Form allows the SSA to contact your doctor to obtain your medical records and discuss your condition. The SSA will need all of your medical information about your condition to make a decision regarding your disability eligibility. Submit the completed forms online through the SSA’s website, or in person at the Austin Social Security office.
The SSA will assign an evaluator to review your application. During the evaluation of your claim, the SSA considers whether your condition is eligible for disability benefits by considering your symptoms and whether you are engaged in substantial gainful activity. To determine your condition’s eligibility for disability benefits, an SSA evaluator will compare your condition to the SSA’s Listing of Impairments. The Listing of Impairments includes all eligible conditions and the condition’s symptoms and possible treatments. Also, the SSA will determine whether you are engaged in substantial gainful activity. According to the SSA, substantial and gainful activity is earning income of $1,010 or more per month. After reviewing your application, the SSA will either approve or deny your claim for disability benefits, and you will receive a letter in the mail stating the SSA’s decision.
If the SSA denies your claim for disability benefits, you can appeal the SSA’s decision, and request a reconsideration of your disability claim. During the reconsideration, the SSA will assign a new evaluator to consider your claim. In addition, the SSA allows applicants to submit additional information to the evaluator, for the evaluator to consider. Examples of additional information you may want to submit include additional medical records or a letter from your treating doctor. You should be aware, however, that the majority of disability claims remain denied following the SSA’s reconsideration of a disability application.
Following a reconsideration denial, the SSA permits applicants to request a Social Security disability hearing. At the Social Security disability hearing, you will testify under oath before a judge who will ask you questions about your medical condition. Questions may include how the condition affects your ability to engage in daily activities, or why you are unable to work due to the condition. The judge may also request that a Vocational Expert testify about the kind of employment available to you considering several factors including your education, skills, training, and your medical condition.
If the judge affirms the denial of your disability claim after the disability hearing, you can file an appeal with the Appeals Council. During the appeal, the Appeals Council evaluates whether the judge considered the appropriate information during the disability hearing, not whether the judge reached the correct conclusion regarding your disability eligibility. If the Appeals Council finds errors in the judge’s decision, the Appeals Council may recommend a reevaluation of your disability claim.
If you have any additional questions about how to file for disability benefits in Austin or the disability appeal process, contact the SSA’s office in Austin or visit the SSA’s website http://www.ssa.gov/pgm/disability.htm.