What is the Procedure for Applying for Benefits?
You must first file an Application for Benefits. You can usually begin that process by calling Social Security’s toll free number at 1-800-772-1213 or by going to the local Social Security office nearest to your home. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, local offices however are not open to the public, although appointments for important matters can sometimes be scheduled. You can also file an application online, but if you do that, you will want to be sure to have all of the necessary information which Social Security needs at your fingertips at the time you begin the application online. If you need a complete list of what Social Security will require for the application, feel free to contact our office and we can provide it.) To determine the local office nearest to you, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/locator.
Local Social Security offices can be found at
- 1149 Robert T. Longway Boulevard– Downtown Flint.
- 2021 W. Carpenter Road– North Flint
- 611 E. Genesee Rd– Saginaw
- 1280 Pontiac Road– Pontiac
- 1375 E. Main Street–Owosso
- 44400 Van Dyke– Sterling Heights
- 1515 E. Eleven Mile Rd– Royal Oak
- 15655 E. Eleven Mile Rd– Roseville
- 23580 Orchard Lake Rd– Farmington Hills
- 34010 Plymouth Road– Livonia
- 5210 Perry Robinson–Lansing
- 85 N. Main Street–Mt. Clemens
When you file an application, you will need to complete forms that provide information regarding your educational and work history, along with information regarding your medical conditions, the treatment you receive, and how those medical conditions effect your ability to engage in various activities. You will want Social Security to receive as much documentation as possible from your doctors regarding your medical conditions and how those conditions effect you. You do not want to overwhelm Social Security with medical diagnostic terminology and lists of exotic diseases; what you need to demonstrate instead is how your medical conditions, whatever they may, result in a loss of function in work and work-like activities. A state agency, the Disability Determination Service will decide your claim initially. In the past, most lawyers have told their clients to apply for benefits on their own and to retain a lawyer if denied on initial determination. You can still do this, and perhaps avoid paying an attorney fee. There is something to be said for hiring a lawyer early in the process though as experienced Social Security Disability lawyers will know what things to emphasize and what documentation to secure.
If your claim is denied, you generally do not want to give up, re-file and start all over. Instead, if you want to pursue the claim for benefits, you want to appeal. To appeal an unfavorable initial determination, one needs to file a Request for Reconsideration within 60 days. If the claim is again denied on Reconsideration, the next step to an appeal is to Request a Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, within 60 days of the unfavorable Reconsideration notice. If you have been denied benefits and believe you are disabled, we recommend that you contact us right away for a free consultation to determine whether we can assist you and represent you in your appeal.
Because of the complexity of Social Security’s Regulations regarding how disability is proven, it is never a good idea for a person to represent him or herself at the hearing before the Administrative Law Judge. Social Security requires people of different ages, education and work experience to prove different things and a claimant on his own unfortunately will not generally know what to prove or how to prove it. Social Security frequently will call as witnesses vocational experts who will suggest various jobs a claimant can perform despite their medical problems. An attorney with experience and expertise in Social Security Disability will know various techniques to challenge the significance of that expert testimony. You should also secure a lawyer as soon as possible, at least after the initial denial, so that your lawyer can begin obtaining documentation and evidence to submit to the Judge at trial.