Social Security Disability Insurance in the State of California
California is known for its sunny weather, sandy beaches, Hollywood lifestyle, and being the hub for technological innovation and development with it’s famous Silicon Valley. However, in recent years, the state of California has a drought issue which brings extreme temperatures, wildfires, landslides, and earthquakes. For many Californians, the drought has brought about increased health challenges such as respiratory problems from the wildfires; rise in COPD and asthma related cases, gastrointestinal, reproductive, and neurological disorders due to the contimated waters and the rise in the West Nile virus and Valley fever. Some of these disease are sever enough to disable an individual and prevent them from working.
If you are disabled, living in California, and unable to work at your current job or any other jobs due to your disability, you may qualify for SSDI benefits provided you have earned enough work credits in the Social Security system. The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes many severe medical conditions that need immediate access to funds and treatment. If you do not meet the exact requirements and conditions in the Blue Book, you can still qualify for SSDI benefits. You must prove that your medical condition hinders you from working and earning an income. The SSA will assess your residual functional capacity (which measures how much you can do despite your limitations), your work experience, and your case history.
A common reason SSA denies benefits at the initial application stage is because of a failure on the part of the applicant to provide complete details of their disability along with documented medical evidence. To increase your chances of approval, it is helpful to have a representative who specializes in the SSDI claims to guide you through the process. It is necessary to understand the claims process and learn how to prepare for the interview with a Social Security disability examiner.
Filing a Social Security Disability Insurance Claim in California
The first step for getting SSDI benefits is the initial application stage. California has several SSA offices spread across the state. You can apply online, by phone, or in person at a Social Security office near you.
Click here to learn more about the SSDI application process or watch the informative video below.
The disability examiner assigned to your file will assess your case and make a decision on your benefits based on the information you provide. This process usually takes up to 120 days, but may vary depending on how quickly the disability officer is able to retrieve your medical records. In order for Social Security to rule in your favor, you must be able to show that your disability will last at least one year and that you are not able to engage in any substantial gainful employment.
Since only 30% of the applicants are awarded benefits, it makes it necessary for the remaining 70% to appeal the denial. The 70% who have been denied benefits have the right to appeal and get the benefits they deserve through the appeals process which comprises of four sequential stages listed below:
- Reconsideration appeal: At the reconsideration appeal step, your case is taken to another disability examiner. The rate of denial at this stage can exceed 80%. (The Reconsideration process is currently not being conducted in the Los Angeles West Branch and the Los Angeles North Branch. In these two branches, the first state of appeal is the court hearing).
- The Court Hearing: You have a much higher chance of being approved for SSDI benefits in the hearing stage than in any other stage. The hearing is conducted before a federally-appointed Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The approval rate at this stage in California is about 51%.
- The Appeals Council: The Appeals Council will determine whether the decision made by the by the ALJ was fairly determined.
- Federal Review: The last and final stage of appeal is the federal court. Here a federal judge will review your case without a jury and make the final verdict. Although the chances of winning a case in federal court are fair, very few claimants take it to this level because of the expense and time involved.
After each denial in the appeals process you have a right to question the decision right up to the final and last stage, the Federal Review. The appeal should be sent within 60 days of the date of denial.
Many cases drag on needlessly because sufficient paperwork has not been submitted or completed properly. A lawyer or representative can help you avoid these unnecessary delays. Attorneys and advocates who are experienced in SSDI claims know how the Social Security claims system works and keep themselves updated on the latest medical listings in the Blue Book. They also know the medical evidence that is needed to meet the criteria for a listing. Because the approval of SSDI benefits often depends on adequate case preparation and expert representation, your chances of winning benefits increase when you have legal and professional assistance. Having competent support at your side will not only help you navigate the claims process confidently, but also help avoid the emotional anxiety and stress that often comes along with it.
We are here to help you get the benefits you deserve. To the right, you’ll find an evaluation form for a free consultation. Find out whether you are eligible for SSDI benefits right now! We will connect you to an advocate who specializes in SSDI benefits within 24 hours.
Helpful Resources for those with Disabilities
If you’re living in California and do not qualified for SSDI benefits or would like additional support, the California State administration offers several other programs to help people with different disabilities. Follow these links to know more about these helpful programs:
- California Department of Developmental Services: Children and adults who are in need of personal services, supervision, or assistance either for self-protection or sustaining daily activities can receive 24-hour non-medical residential care through these services.
- Rehabilitation Program and Services: This is an employment and independent living resource for people with disabilities.
- California Department of Education: Provides resources for special alternative and continuing education options for students with different needs. It also provides resources and support for parents, guardians, and families of children with disabilities.