What Are the Legal Steps in Claiming SSD Benefits?

Getting access to Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits can be a daunting task, especially if you are unfamiliar with the legal processes involved. There is a lot of paperwork to sort through, but navigating complex policy language can also be a significant hurdle. This article will guide you through the legal steps in claiming SSD benefits to help make the process less intimidating and more manageable.

Legal Steps in Claiming SSD Benefits

1. Initiating Your Claim

The first step towards the SSD Benefit application begins with determining your eligibility. This involves proving your condition is severe enough to qualify for benefits. It could be a long-term disability or even a terminal condition. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a manual named Blue Book listing eligible impairments, making it an invaluable resource. You can initiate your claim if you have a condition that matches the SSA’s criteria.

2. Application Process

The application process for SSD benefits can seem complex and overwhelming, but breaking it down into concise steps can make it seem more manageable. Here is a simplified list of the steps:

  • Determining Eligibility: The first step is determining if you qualify for SSD benefits, per the Social Security Administration (SSA) guidelines. This includes having a severe, long-lasting, or terminal medical condition that prohibits you from maintaining gainful employment.
  • Collection of Necessary Information and Documents: Gather all necessary information and documentation before starting the application process. This includes your Social Security number, birth or baptismal certificate, names, addresses, and phone numbers of the doctors, caseworkers, hospitals, and clinics that took care of you, names of medications you are taking, medical records from your doctors, therapists, hospitals, clinics and caseworkers, laboratory and test results, a summary of where you worked and the kind of work you did, and a copy of your most recent W-2 Form (or your IRS 1040 and Schedules C and SE if self-employed).
  • Filing the Application: You can apply for SSD benefits online, in person at a local SSA office, or over the phone. Be prepared to provide complete and accurate information on your medical condition, treatment, limitations, and work history.
  • Waiting for the Decision: The SSA will review your disability application and inform you of their decision. On average, the initial processing time can take from three to five months. Meanwhile, ensure you’re promptly responding to any additional queries or requests for information from the SSA.
  • Filing an Appeal if Necessary: If your initial application is denied, there are different stages of the appeal process, including reconsideration, a hearing by an administrative law judge, a review by the Appeals Council, and finally, a federal court review.

3. Final Legal Steps

In situations where your SSD claim is denied, despite a reconsideration request, certain legal steps can be taken to fight for your benefits. These final steps are crucial for those seeking the benefits they need and deserve.

  • Requesting a Hearing: After successive claim denials, your next resort would be to ask for an SSD hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). This should be lodged within 60 days of the denial of your reconsideration. The hearing lets you present your case in more detail and demonstrate why you’re entitled to benefits.
  • Preparing for the Hearing: Preparing for your hearing is crucial – gather all possible evidence and consider seeking the help of a disability lawyer or advocate. Their expertise can help strengthen your case. Also, ensure that you have all your medical documents up-to-date. If new tests have been conducted, carry these reports along as well.
  • The Hearing Process: During the hearing, the ALJ will consider all the fresh evidence presented and may ask questions about your disability, medical history, treatments you’ve undergone, and limitations impacting your ability to work. Vocational experts may also be present to discuss the kind of work you can still do despite the disability.
  • ALJ’s Decision: After reviewing all the evidence and testimonies, the ALJ will decide. This may either grant or deny your SSD benefits based on the evidence presented.
  • Appeals Council Review: If the ALJ turns down your claim, the next and almost final step is to request an Appeals Council review. The Council can overturn the judge’s decision, send your case back for another hearing, or even deny your request for a review.
  • Federal Court Case: If the Appeals Council denies your claim or refuses to review your case, you can take your case to the federal court. This is the ultimate legal recourse in the entire SSD benefit claims process.

Social Security Disability Benefits 

  • For Cancer: Do you know that certain types of cancer qualify for disability benefits? If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, you may benefit from cancer disability representation. Such representation can increase your chances of approval by ensuring your application meets the SSA’s requirements.
  • For Multiple Sclerosis: Living with a chronic illness like multiple sclerosis can be debilitating, and fighting for benefits shouldn’t be another burden. This is where the importance of social security disability for multiple sclerosis comes in. By enlisting the help of experienced advocates, you can significantly increase the chances of your application’s success.
  • For Widow Benefits: Losing a loved one can be a traumatic experience coupled with financial instability. It can be even more difficult. Fortunately, widow and widower benefits under social security exist. So, if you are a spouse to a deceased who earned enough social security credits, you could be eligible for benefits.


The process of claiming SSD benefits can be grueling. However, understanding the steps involved can make your journey more manageable. Whether seeking SSD benefits because of cancer, multiple sclerosis or as a widow or widower, garnering the right help can dramatically improve your chances of a successful claim. Advocates and legal representation can not only aid in meeting all precise requirements but also give you the best chance at reassurance and economic stability.