The Michigan Social Security Disability Claims Process
Filing for Social Security Disability Benefits in Michigan: How the Process Works
On one hand, you may strongly believe that you qualify for Social Security disability (SSD) benefits. After all, a serious medical condition could be keeping you from being able to work. On the other hand, you may feel overwhelmed by the process that goes into seeking those benefits. As a result, you could be left with a hopeless feeling.
At Disability Attorneys of Michigan, we help people in your situation every day. First, we can explain the process to you. The more you know, the less intimidating it seems. Then, we can use our legal skills, experience and resources to carefully guide your benefits claims through that process. It could involve as many as three stages:
- Determining your eligibility for SSD benefits
- Submitting your SSD benefits application
- Pursuing an appeal of your denied SSD benefits claim.
We know the ins-and-outs of the SSD benefits process. This is all we do. Our legal team focuses exclusively on helping the disabled throughout Michigan. We can use that knowledge and insight to make a difference in your case. Above all, we can provide the professional and compassionate support you need to keep fighting for the benefits you deserve. To learn more, contact us today. We will provide a free consultation.
Determining Your Eligibility for SSD Benefits
The Social Security Administration (SSA) generally provides two types of disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD or SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Before you apply for either type, you should consider whether you meet the SSA’s definition of a “disability.” Ask yourself these four questions (in order):
- Is my impairment severe? Does your mental or physical condition keep you from sitting, standing, bending, reaching, concentrating or carrying out other basic functions? If so, move on to the next question.
- Has my condition lasted or is it expected to last 12 months or result in death? If so, you may have a medical condition that matches or is equal in severity to a disability listed in the SSA’s Blue Book, and you may qualify for benefits. If you don’t have such a condition, move on to the next question.
- Am I unable to do my usual past work? For example, if you were a truck driver before, but now you cannot sit for a long period without feeling horrible pain, you may qualify for benefits. If you can’t do the work you did before, move on to the next question.
- Can I do any other work? If, based on your age, education, training and work experience, you cannot do any other line of work, you may likely qualify for SSD benefits.
If you believe that you are eligible for SSD benefits, you should gather the personal, medical and financial information that you will need in order to submit your application. (See our page on applying for benefits.) If you have any difficulty gathering these materials, our legal team will gladly help you.
Submitting Your SSD Benefits Application
The SSA often denies SSD benefits claims because an application contains easily avoidable mistakes. For instance, the application may have missing, incorrect or inconsistent information and documentation. You should get help from Disability Attorneys of Michigan when you are ready to submit your application. We will make sure you avoid those mistakes.
We will help you to compile and organize your personal, medical and financial information. We will gather documentation such as your birth certificate, medical records, pay stubs and W2 forms. We can also ask your treating doctor to provide a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form. This form will carry weight when the SSA decides your medical eligibility.
When you submit your application, you can use the SSA’s online form, which is a relatively easy and time-efficient way to apply for benefits. You can also submit your application by going to the nearest SSA field office. If your condition prevents you from leaving the home, you can call (800) 772-1213 or (800) 325-0778 (TTY) and mail in your documentation.
A Disability Determination Services (DDS) office in Detroit, Lansing, Traverse City or Kalamazoo actually will review your application. In some cases, the disability examiner may ask for more information. We can provide any extra information that the examiner requests. If the examiner asks you to undergo a Consultative Examination (CE), we will guide you through that process.
Appealing Your Denied SSD Benefits Claim
If the SSA denies your benefits application in Michigan, your case could go through three levels of appeal:
First, you will receive a Notice of Disapproved Claim letter in the mail. The letter will state why the SSA denied your claim. The letter also will have a denial date. If you disagree with the decision, you must request an administrative law judge hearing within 60 days from that denial date.
At the hearing, you will have the chance to present new or additional evidence in support of your claim. You can also explain, in person, the nature of your disability and how it is has impacted your ability to work.
If you do not have a lawyer at this point, you should get in touch with Disability Attorneys of Michigan right away. We will:
- Make sure you are fully prepared for your hearing.
- Present a solid and persuasive case on your behalf.
- Seek all options available to expedite a decision on your claim.
The ALJ hearing will be held at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) that is nearest to you. The ODAR offices are located in Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Livonia, Mt. Pleasant and Oak Park. You can also request a video hearing.
Unfortunately, it may take several months for your hearing to be scheduled – and even longer to learn whether the ALJ ultimately approved or denied your claim. The good news is that a high percentage of claims ultimately get approved after a hearing. You will greatly improve your chances by working with an experienced SSD benefits lawyer.
Appeals Council Review
If the ALJ denies your claim, you will have 60 days from that denial date to file a request for review by the SSA Appeals Council in Virginia. The Council will first decide whether to grant or deny your request. If the Council grants review, it will affirm or reverse the ALJ’s decision in your case, or it may send the case back to the ALJ with orders to gather more evidence.
Appeals Council review is highly technical. Disability Attorneys of Michigan can use our strong understanding of SSA administration laws, regulations and case law to present the strongest argument possible on your behalf.
Federal Court Lawsuit
If the Appeals Council denies your request for review or affirms the ALJ’s denial of your benefits claim, you can file a lawsuit in federal court. You must file this lawsuit within 60 days after the Council’s decision. You can file the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan or the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.
Filing a lawsuit in federal court can be highly complex. When you work with Disability Attorneys of Michigan, you will benefit from our extensive experience with handling Social Security disability appeals at this level. We will bring our familiarity with federal procedural rules and disability law to your case as well as our strong legal writing skills. Our goal will be to put you in the best position to obtain the benefits you need and deserve.
Don’t Face the SSD Benefits Process Alone. Our Lawyers Will Help You
Why go through the SSD benefits process on your own when you can work with a highly experienced legal team that helps people in your situation every day? Disability Attorneys of Michigan will keep you from making costly mistakes and increase your chances of getting your benefits claim approved. We serve clients throughout Michigan, and we are ready to go to work for you today.
Remember: When you hire Disability Attorneys of Michigan, You will pay us no legal fees unless the SSA approves your benefits claim. At that time, we will file a fee petition. The SSA places limits on the amount we can collect.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you and receive a free consultation.