TheElder & Disability Law Firm, APC
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Applying for Social Security Disability: The first steps

The path from the first steps of a Social Security Disability claim to final approval can be challenging for California applicants. However, understanding what happens after a claim is submitted can help people feel as if they have a better grasp of the process taking place. When people first apply for SSD benefits, their application is sent to disability determination services, a state agency, for further processing. A caseworker or disability examiner will be assigned to the claimant's application to review materials and investigate the file.

The first step for most disability examiners is reaching out to the medical sources provided by the applicant to obtain the relevant medical records for review. If these records are 90 days past or older, they may be considered outdated, requiring further review. In this case, the disability examiner will contact the claimant to come in for a consultative examination performed by a doctor working for Social Security. These exams are rarely as useful as those performed by an applicant's own doctor, especially as the physician involved has little knowledge of the claimant's medical history and additional symptoms. In addition, this type of exam rarely leads to approval for disability benefits except when the applicant's condition can be clearly and objectively tested.

The examiner will also review the extent of the applicant's disability. Examiners may ask about a claimant's ability to handle daily life activities like shopping, cleaning, typing or driving in an attempt to assess how limited the applicant is from seeking paid employment.

In many cases, people who apply for Social Security Disability benefits face denials at the early stages, but a disability hearing may provide a significant opportunity to introduce further details. A disability attorney may help people make their claim with clear evidence and present a case for much-needed benefits.

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