Presently, 12.6% of the United States population or nearly 40 million individuals are disabled. Subsequently, in Maryland, 8.6% of residents 21-64 years old are disabled. Many of which are unable to continue steady employment. That’s where disability insurance comes in. Over 2.5 million disability applications are submitted each year. And, although the disability application process can be long and difficult, it is worth the consideration.
Disability Application Process
Individuals who apply for disability in Maryland have a 22-29% chance of receiving a disability award. The first step in the disability application process is the Sequential Disability Evaluation. The process determines whether an individual is disabled or not, and it is based on the following criteria:
- Does the applicant work Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)?
- How severe is the condition?
- Does the impairment meet the criteria in the SSA List of Impairments?
- Can the applicant work as they have previously done?
- Can the applicant do another kind of work?
The Reconsideration Appeal
Upon receiving a denial of an application, a request for reconsideration is the first appeal that can be filed. During this stage, the applicant’s case is reviewed by a different disability examiner and medical team. However, they will use the same rules as the first review. The applicant can also include additional evidence for the DDS (Disability Determination Services) to review, such as doctors visits and changes in medications. Most importantly, the applicant must submit the appeal in writing within the first 60 days of receiving the denial notice.
- In the United States, 13.8% of applicants receive approval for benefits during the reconsideration appeal, and 86.2% are denied.
- In Maryland, 13.7% of applicants are approved, and 86.3% are denied.
The Disability Hearing
If a claim is denied during the reconsideration process, the next step is a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). During this phase, the ALJ reviews documentary evidence and witness testimony. This level provides many individuals their best opportunity for winning benefits. Additionally, like all appeals, the applicant must request a hearing within 60 days of the date of the prior denial.
- In the United States, 62% of applicants are approved during the disability hearing phase, while 38% are denied.
- In Maryland, 60% of applicants are approved, while 40% are denied.
Reasons to Get a Representative
- Having a representative at your hearing increases your chances of getting a favorable decision.
- A representative will make sure that all the medical evidence is in the claimant’s file in time for the hearing.
- It is extremely helpful to have a representative that knows how to answer the questions that the ALJ asks during the hearing that will present the case in the best light.
- A representative knows Social Security law and is able to challenge the ALJ to make sure the claimant case is processed correctly.
If you looking to start the disability application process, don’t do it alone. At Disability Support Services, you have access to expert attorneys and disability representatives who specialize in Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Contact us today for a free consultation.