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Who Actually Makes The Determination On Whether Or Not I’m Approved For These Benefits?

In this article, you will learn:

  • How an individual qualifies for benefits
  • Who can collect benefits one an individual has been approved

There are several different stages in the process of being approved for benefits. When you initially file your application, it gets sent to your state’s disability determination office. In Arkansas, we call it DDS. They review the file and the allegations, disability, and the medical evidence they gather or at least attempt to gather. They also look at your age, education, and past role at work to determine whether or not they believe you have a severe impairment and whether that severe impairment would cause limitations that would meet their rules and regulations.

In my experience, I would say 80% of the first applications get denied. We then file a request for reconsideration, and it goes back down to DDS. They look at the new evidence you’ve provided, fill out much paperwork, and you must let them know which conditions have worsened or if you have any new conditions. Sometimes, they send people out for consultative examinations, mental status examinations, and physical examinations, and they gather further medical evidence from there. Then, they issue their new decision. Again, there is not a very high percentage of wins at stage two or the request for reconsideration stage. They’ll typically issue a second denial, and at that point, you have to file what’s called a request for hearing.

The request for hearing gets sent to a different organization called the Office of Hearings Operations. In this office, you have administrative law judges working for the federal government. They are an independent body that oversees the Social Security Administration. Again, even though the state of Arkansas operates DDS, is still an arm of the federal Social Security Administration. Still, once you get to their hearing stage, you have an independent body, you have judges that are lawyers that are going to review the case and see if there’s enough evidence on the record decision. If they determine there is not, in most cases, you end up going to a hearing. The majority of the cases that are approved are approved at the hearing stage. The hearing stage is important because it’s the first time in many situations that the claimant can give their own testimony as to what’s going on, what symptoms they’re having in regard to their severe impairments, and the limitations that are caused by these symptoms.

If you lose at the hearing stage, you can then appeal to the Appeals Council, which is the last administrative appeal that you have to exhaust. Again, they’re administrative law judges that review the other administrative law judge’s decision. If you receive an unfavorable decision, you can appeal to the Appeals Council. You outline your arguments for why the judge’s unfavorable decision was wrong. Then, when you receive the response from the Appeals Council, if it’s a denial, you have the right to file a federal lawsuit and pursue a review of the entire administrative process in federal court.

Will My Family Or Can My Family Receive Any Benefits From SSDI Or SSI?

The family does not receive benefits under SSI. SSI is limited to the person that has been found disabled and qualifies under the Means Test, meaning that they have very few assets or very little income. If they meet the Means Test, they must then show that they have a physical or mental impairment that’s severe enough for them to be deemed disabled. Under the SSDI program, Title 2, whether the family can collect benefits depends on the situation. For example, if you’ve paid in enough to the Social Security system not only to insure yourself, you may have paid in enough to qualify for what’s called a Family Maximum, meaning that if you are found disabled and you have dependents during any part of the period that you’re found disabled, those individuals can draw on your record because you’ve paid in enough to qualify for family benefits.

For more information on Social Security Disability Law In Arkansas, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you seek by calling (866) 253-2226 today.

Thurman & Flanagin Attorneys At Law

You Deserve The Best, Get Help Today
(866) 253-2226