What are the Typical Stages in a Social Security Disability or SSI Case?
An Initial Application is filed in a social security administration office, over the phone or online. The application goes to the applicants nearest SSA office. From there the Initial Application is routed to their state Disability Determination Office for the decision. If the claim is approved at the initial level it then will go back to the local SSA Office where it was processed for payment. Next, the paperwork is routed to a Payment Center that will send the applicant their check.
If the Initial Application is denied, then the applicant must file an appeal if they want to continue with their case. The first appeal is called the Reconsideration Appeal. It too is filed with the local social security office which then will processes it and send it to the state Disability Determination Service. If the case is approved at the Reconsideration Level it goes back to the local SSA Office, as above, to the Payment Center that will send out the check.
If the Reconsideration is denied as well, then a second appeal which is an Application of a Hearing with the Administrative Law Judge is filed with the local office. From there the second appeal will be forwarded to the closest Social Security Judge's Office, which is called the Office of Disability and Review (ODAR). If the claim is appealed to the Judge's Office it is routed to the local social security office and from there to the Payment Center which cuts the check.
If the claim is denied at the ODAR or Social Security Judge Office, another appeal can be made to the Appeals Council which is located in Falls Church Virginia for all cases throughout the United States.
Cases that are denied by the Appeals Council can be appealed to Federal Courts and the Appeal Courts; though it is rare, every year or two a social security or SSI case is appealed all the way to the US Supreme Court.