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How to Apply

Applying for social Security disability can be an intimidating process on your own. Our office files initial applications for clients on a daily basis. Filing an initial application through our office is a simple process. We first send out representation forms to the client. Once the client signs and returns the forms we call the client to file the initial application online, while we speak with the client over the phone.

Social Security denies most initial applications, whether you hire a representative or file on your own (about 70% of initial applications are denied in North Carolina). However, there are many initial applications that are approved, and we do everything we can to make sure our clients have the best possible chance of getting approved at the initial stage.

Sometimes initial applications are denied for simple mistakes that can be avoided with our help. When we file initial applications for clients we are meticulous in making sure that Social Security gets every piece of information they need to make an informed decision. During the application and review process, we are thorough in providing Social Security with a detailed list of our clients’ disabling impairments, all treating medical sources, and a detailed work history.

Once the application is filed, Social Security requests all medical records. We follow up with Social Security regularly during the initial application process to make sure that all medical records are received before a decision is made. If Social Security is unable to get a particular medical record, we send out our own medical record request and pay for the records up front. If our client has a doctor who supports their disability claim during the initial application stage, we send a form for the doctor to complete, which we then submit to Social Security.

We have specific forms for most medical conditions, and if a client’s doctor is supportive and completes one of our forms, it can be a very important piece of medical evidence in proving our client’s case. We try to provide as much detailed information to Social Security during the initial application process, so that our clients have the best chance of an early approval. Most importantly, we keep in touch with both the client and Social Security on a regular basis during the initial application stage. If the initial application gets denied, we take care of all the appeals moving forward.

Some clients choose to file the initial application on their own, without a representative. We typically don’t recommend filing the initial application on your own, but if you choose to do so, we want to make sure you do it the right way. Starting the application process can be done by doing any one of the following:

  • call Social Security at 800-772-1213 – your call will be answered by an automated system that will ask you to make various selections (i.e., press “1″ for xyz, press “2″ for abc) but eventually you will end up with a live person. When you reach a live person tell the operator that you are disabled and want to apply for both Disability and SSI.
  • apply online at – Social Security recommends that you apply online if you have a computer and statistics show that online applications are processed faster
  • apply in person at your local Social Security office – if you apply in person, we recommend that you go first thing in the morning on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, when the crowds are likely to be the smallest

Participate Fully in the Initial Interview

A few days after you apply, you will receive a letter in the mail from Social Security confirming that your application is being processed and they will schedule you for an interview. This interview is important because it gives you the opportunity to explain to a Social Security decision maker (called an “Adjudicator”) why you believe that you are disabled.

This meeting is also important in that you must give the adjudicator the names, addresses and phone numbers of each and every doctor, hospital and medical provider who has treated you over the past ten years at least, and possibly longer.

You should be completely open and honest with the adjudicator at the intake and give full disclosure about all of your medical and mental health issues. Everything you reveal to Social Security is protected by strong privacy laws.

After the adjudicator gathers information about your medical treatment and other information about your disability, she will request records and make a finding about whether you qualify for benefits. Some people, especially those with severe or life threatening illnesses do get approved early. But a large percentage of deserving claimants do get turned down.

Our firm is frequently hired by claimants after they get turned down by Social Security. The process of appealing the denials can seem complicated and intimidating to many people and the lengthy paperwork or lack of answers from Social Security offices may frustrate applicants.

Request for Reconsideration – the First Appeal

If you are turned down by the Adjudicator, you must file an appeal called a “Request for Reconsideration” within sixty (60) days from the date you received your denial. Our firm routinely files these appeals. While you can file them using a paper form, we have been approved to file reconsideration appeals electronically.

Social Security’s own statistics show that most reconsideration appeals are denied, so we encourage our clients not to get frustrated or angry if their reconsideration appeal is denied.

Assuming you are denied, the next step is to file a request for an Administrative Law Judge hearing.
Request for Hearing – the Second Appeal

Within sixty (60) days from the date you receive your reconsideration denial, you must file a second appeal called a Request for Hearing. This is another point in the disability process where our clients frequently decide to hire us.

Once we file your hearing request, we begin to prepare in earnest for your day in court. We strongly suggest that you chose to have an attorney by your side when you go before the Social Security judge. By the time your hearing date comes around your case may have been pending for one to two years and your hearing is the best chance for you to recover benefits.

Why Choose the Clauson Law Firm?

Attorney Vaughn Clauson at the Clauson Law Firm, PLLC, has personally represented more than a thousand people who have recovered full or partial benefits in North Carolina. We can help you fill out the necessary forms, prepare for an interview and present your case to an Administrative Law Judge. While there are parts of the process that you must complete yourself, such as the actual filing of some of the forms, we believe in a team approach that can make you feel more confident and informed about those steps.

Contact us at the Clauson Law Firm, PLLC, and learn more information about the process at a free initial consultation. Call our Durham office at 919-794-4437 or toll free at 877-835-0923.

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