Tampa Social Security Disability Claims Process
Social Security Disability (SSD) is a valuable benefit that can provide disabled individuals with over $1,000 a month in financial support if they can no longer work due to a severe injury or medical condition that keeps them from working. Unfortunately, SSD is very hard to get; over two-thirds of applications for SSD are turned down by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Many people don’t know they can fight a denial, or they don’t think there is a point in trying to take on the massive government bureaucracy at the SSA. But if you are eligible for benefits, you need them and deserve them. You worked for years and paid into the system; it should be there for you when you need it.
The Tampa SSD lawyers are here for you if your claim for disability benefits was rejected. There are many reasons an application can get denied, and there are many ways our law firm knows to fix it. See below for an overview of the process for filing a claim for SSD. If your application has been denied, call Franco Law Firm for a free consultation with our Tampa Social Security Disability lawyers. We’ll take a look at your file and let you know if we can help you get your application approved.
The SSD Application Process
To get started with your application for SSD, you can visit your local SSA field office (Tampa has two) or call for an interview over the phone. You can also start the application process online. You should apply for benefits as soon as possible after the onset of your disability. It takes time to get an application approved, and the sooner you start applying, the sooner you can start receiving benefits.
To prepare for your interview, you’ll want to have a detailed list of information and documentation ready, including personal information, work history, bank account information, details about your medical condition, the doctors you are seeing and treatment you are getting, a detailed job history including your education and training, and more.
Once your application is received, it is reviewed and verified and sent to the Division of Disability Determination Services (DDS). DDS further reviews medical records and other information to determine whether you have a disability that prevents you from working within the meaning of Social Security’s strict definitions. They might require you to submit to one or more Consultative Exams where doctors hired by Social Security will examine you and provide an opinion to SSA regarding your disability.
Common reasons for claim denials are that the application is incomplete, the claimant doesn’t have a qualifying disability, or the claimant is ineligible based on work history. Most of the time, SSA turns down the initial application. But the process doesn’t have to stop there. There are steps you can take if your application is rejected, and Franco Law Firm can help.
If Your SSD Application Is Denied
If SSA believes that necessary information is missing or incomplete, or they don’t think you met your burden of proving your disability, they will inform you of their rejection in a denial letter. You then have 60 days to appeal their decision. The first step of an appeal is generally a request for reconsideration.
A reconsideration hearing is a complete review of your claim, like a second bite at the apple. This is a great time to bring in an experienced social security disability lawyer. We can review your file for missing information and include new evidence that you didn’t submit the first time around. Be warned that since this is a new review, it’s possible to come out worse under the second reviewer than you did under the first one. However, our experienced team will take care to review your entire application packet and make any adjustments needed to put your claim in the best light for success.
Administrative Law Judge Hearing
If the reconsideration hearing didn’t go your way, the next step is to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Whereas the Reconsideration Hearing can be completed simply by submitting documents, you will personally attend the ALJ hearing, although it might be conducted via videoconference. We will attend this hearing with you and present any witnesses or other evidence in your favor, including any new evidence that hasn’t yet been submitted in the previous stages.
Appeals Council Review
If the ALJ ruling is unfavorable, you can ask the Social Security Appeals Council to review the ALJ decision. The Appeals Council has the option of either hearing your appeal themselves or sending your case back to the ALJ to review your case further. The Appeals Council could also turn down your request without any further review. We can help put your best foot forward in requesting Appeals Council Review and presenting your claim in a compelling fashion.
Federal District Court and Appeals
If the Appeals Court ruled against you or declined to take your appeal, you could decide to file a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. In federal court, the judge does not review your application but hears your arguments about what errors were made at the previous levels. The federal court’s ruling can be further appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and even to the United States Supreme Court. Taking your case into federal court can be a long, difficult and expensive process. If your case reaches this stage, we’ll counsel you about your chances for success and whether it is advisable to pursue a federal lawsuit for Social Security Disability benefits. Attorney Manny Franco is a successful appellate lawyer who can advise you on whether it makes sense to appeal your case and how far to take it.
Contact the Franco Law Firm Today
The SSD process can appear daunting, and it is. But don’t miss out on valuable benefits by being intimidated or frustrated with the process. Instead, call Franco Law Firm, and let us take on the job of getting your claim in shape for a successful result. We have had many successes in this area and would welcome the opportunity to help you too. Remember that your time to appeal a denial is short. Contact our Tampa Social Security Disability lawyers today.