Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are the two federal programs that provide disability benefits to disabled U.S. workers. These programs are managed by the federal Social Security Administration (SSA), but if you live in California, the state also has a hand in administering disability benefits. Before you apply for either SSDI or SSI, get help from an experienced Los Angeles Social Security disability lawyer. It’s a long and complicated procedure with plenty of chances to make mistakes, so you’ll need an attorney who routinely handles disability cases and knows “the ropes.”
After you file an initial disability application with your local SSA field office, your application is directed to the Disability Determination Service Division (DDSD), a part of the California Department of Social Services. A DDSD claims examiner will make the first determination regarding your benefits. Initial applications are typically denied, so you’ll go to the “reconsideration” stage. Most applicants are again denied benefits at the reconsideration stage, and at that point you’ll need to request an appeal hearing with an administrative law judge. In some parts of southern California you can skip reconsideration and go directly to an appeal hearing. Your attorney will have the details, but you’ll need some patience. In 2014, the average wait time in California for an appeal hearing was 329 days, which was still 13 days shorter than the national average.
Only 31 percent of applicants are approved for benefits on the initial application. At the reconsideration level, 11.7 percent of previously denied claims are approved. At the hearing level, 50.9 percent of the previously denied claims are approved. Those working with a good disability lawyer are more likely to win approval at any stage of the process. It can sometimes be a long wait, but if you’re unable to work, it’s worth that wait. Get started today by contacting an experienced Los Angeles Social Security disability lawyer as quickly as possible.