To maximize your prospects of being awarded Social Security benefits for a disability, a person should follow these steps:

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1. Obtain appropriate medical care for the illness or medical condition.

2. File out an application with Social Security.

This can be done by going in person to your local social security office, by telephone, or online by accessing the website.

When to file the application can be difficult since there is a requirement to prove that the disability has prevented or will prevent you from working for at least 12 months, but you can file anytime that you believe you will be disabled for at least 12 months.

3. After you submit your claim, the claim will be sent to your local Social Security office. The person assigned to your claim will gather additional information and make an initial determination as to whether your claim warrants disability benefits. In some cases, the Social Security office may ask you to undergo an examination.

4. After the Social Security Offices makes a decision, Social Security Administration will adopt the decision and you will receive a written notice of the decision. If the claim is approved, the notice will tell the applicant the benefit amount and the monthly payments will start. However, if the claim is denied, the notice will give a reason for the denial and notify you that you have 60 days to perfect an appeal of the decision.

5. In a majority of cases, the initial claim for benefits is denied. However, you should not give up on receiving social security benefits. There are three levels of administrative appeals that are available to you. Because these appeals become more complicated, we strongly advise you to consult an attorney to assist with the process.

6. The first appeal is a Request for Reconsideration. This basically serves as a second initial determination but by a different person at the Social Security office. Rarely does a Request For Reconsideration result in the approval of a previously denied claim.

7. The second appeal is to submit a Request For Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. At this stage, it is exceptionally important to have an attorney that is knowledgeable and experienced in Social Security law and has a track record of success in obtaining social security benefits for their clients. This is usually where you win or lose.

8.The attorneys that handle social security cases through the hearing stage before an Administrative Law Judge only get paid if the attorney makes a recovery for you. The attorneys’ fees are set by federal statute and equal 25% of the back pay benefits awarded but not to exceed $6,000.00.

9. Third appeal: If the Administrative Law judge denies your claim for benefits, you may request a review by the Social Security Appeals Council.

10. Fourth appeal: If the Appeals council denies your claim, you can appeal to the Federal District Court.

It’s important that you hire the right Houston social security benefits lawyer from the start.  Call me at (832) 741-4638 to discuss your eligibility for benefits and how my firm can help you attain them.