Applying for Disability Benefits in California

helping an older person fill out an application

While disability benefits are available through the Social Security Administration (SSA), the application process is complicated. The application contains a number of questions, and also requires completing a number of forms and submitting a significant amount of medical information. To be eligible, you must be unable to perform any substantial gainful activity (SGA) as that term is defined by the SSA. Given the complexities associated with filing and applying for disability benefits, it helps to work with an experienced disability benefits attorney.

Roeschke Law, LLC works with disabled individuals and their families throughout the state of California. We are knowledgeable in the eligibility requirements for disability benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. When you consult us, we will explain all of your rights, assist you with the application process, and represent you in all dealings with the SSA. Above all, we are committed to helping you obtain the benefits you deserve.

How To Apply for SSDI/SSI

Generally, there are three ways to apply for disability benefits — online, by phone, or by visiting a local SSA field office. First, the application must be completed accurately. This includes answering a series of questions about your disability and your work history. There will also be a questionnaire about how your disability interferes with your daily activities, such as walking, bending, lifting. The initial claim must be accompanied by certain personal information, such as:

  • Social Security Number
  • Birth certificate
  • Contact information of doctors
  • Names and dosages of prescription medications
  • Detailed work history

In short, applying for disability benefits is a lengthy and complicated process. Additionally, if there are any errors or omissions in the application, the claim will likely be denied. When you work with the disability benefits attorneys at Roeschke Law, LLC, you will have peace of mind knowing that your application will be thoroughly prepared.

What is a consultative exam?

In addition to the medical records that your treating physician needs to provide to support your benefits claim, you will also be required to attend a consultative exam with a physician selected by the SSA. Both the provided medical information and results of the consultative exam must demonstrate that your medical condition has lasted, or is expected to last, 12 months or longer, or result in death.

How Does the SSA Evaluate a Disability Benefits Claim?

When you submit the initial claim, the first thing the disability examiner considers is whether you have acquired the necessary work credits (up to four credits per year), based on your total annual wages or self-employment income. Generally, it is necessary to acquire a total of 40 credits, half of which must have been earned in the last 10 years. The older you are, the more credits you need, while younger workers with fewer credits may still be eligible. If you have acquired the requisite number of credits, your claim will be sent to the department of Disability Determination Services (DDS) for a complete review.

The Disability Determination Services Review

DDS is responsible for approving or denying the initial claim after conducting a thorough review of all the information and medical records contained in the application. While your medical condition must be listed in the Blue Book, your claim may still be approved if the condition is medically equivalent to a listed impairment.

The DDS will also consider whether or not you are capable of performing the same type of work you were doing before becoming disabled, or another type of work. If the medical information does not support the claim, DDS will require you to attend one or more consultative exams. The findings of these exams will factor greatly into the final determination on your benefits claim.

Once a decision is made, the DDS will send you a letter. If the claim is approved, the letter will include information about the monthly benefit amount, the date benefits will start, and whether the benefits are retroactive. Given that a benefits claim can take several months, the award may also cover the period of time during which your application was being considered. If the claim is denied, however, then the letter will include an explanation and also notify you of your right to appeal the decision.

Contact Our California Disability Attorney For Help

At Roeschke Law, LLC, we know that applying for disability benefits while coping with a medical condition can be overwhelming. Our legal team is here to help by providing you with informed representation and caring efficient process. We will work with you through all levels of the claims process, collaborate with your treating physician, and enlist the services of medical and vocational experts to provide evidence that supports your claim. If you or a loved one is seeking disability benefits, don’t go it alone. Please contact our office today to set up a free evaluation of your case.