1. Complete an Application for Disability
- Online: Social Security Offical Website
- Call SSA toll free: 1 (800) 772-1213 (for a paper application)
- Visit a local field office: Social Security Office Locator
The information that is most important for filing your claim:
- medical facilities where you have had treatment—particularly since you stopped working
- your work history
- your reports and your family or friends report about how your disability affects you
2. Initial Determination (Wait Time Is about 3-4 Months)
- The claim will be assigned to your local field office. The field office will determine your eligibility and then send your claim to an agency called Disability Determination Services (DDS). A medical consultant at DDS will determine whether you are disabled under SSA’s rules.
- This process takes about 3-4 months but can take longer—especially if your case is more complex.
3. Reconsideration Determination Wait Time Is about Another 3-4 Months)
- If your claim is denied at the initial level, then you have 60 days to file a request for reconsideration.
- Your claim will then be reviewed by another medical consultant at DDS. This medical consultant will determine whether you are disabled under SSA’s rules.
- This process takes about 3-4 months but can take longer—especially if your case is more complex or if DDS decides that they need more information, and sends you to an independent medical examiner for a consultative examination.
4. Hearing Level (Wait Time Is about Another 10 Months)
- If your claim is denied at the reconsideration level, then you have 60 days to file a request for an administrative law hearing.
- The hearing will be scheduled approximately 10 months from when you make the request for it if your case is in Washington State. It can be shorter or longer then that—this is just an average wait time in the region.
- The hearing will be before an Administrative Law Judge. At the hearing, you will be able to present evidence and the ALJ will take testimony—meaning they will hear from you about your claim.
- The pertinent evidence is:
- Your medical records
- Statements and evaluations from your medical providers
- Statements from friends, family, or former employers
- Your testimony
- Testimony of experts the ALJ will request attend your hearing
The First Impression Is the Most Important.
If you are considering applying for benefits, call our office toll-free at 1 (844) 448-5337 for a free in-person consultation. We will be proactive in representing you from the beginning.