Five Steps in the Social Security Disability Process

When it comes to your Social Security Disability claim, there are five steps.

1Application: The first step is to apply. You will be asked to fill out forms from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and provide medical evidence to help support your claim. At this stage, your claim will either be approved (and you will start receiving benefits), or, more likely, you will be denied and you will need to go further in the process by filing an appeal.

2Reconsideration: This is a review of your claim by someone who was not involved in the initial decision and is the first step in the appeals process. Your original evidence is reviewed along with any new evidence you provide.

3Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ): At this appeals stage (the second appeals step), you get to present your evidence before a judge who will issue a ruling. Most successful cases are won at this level.

4Review by Appeals Council: If the ALJ denies your case, you may ask the Appeals Council for a review. At this third stage of the appeals process, the Appeals Council may return your case to the ALJ for a new hearing.

5Federal Court Review: If you disagree with the Appeals Council decision, you can file a lawsuit in Federal District Court. You must have an attorney admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court in the state you live in to represent you at this level.

The entire process to win Social Security Disability benefits can be overwhelming. You should be aware that most often it’s a long and drawn-out process so don’t expect the SSA to move quickly. We’ll do everything we can to speed your case along, but we’re all at the mercy of the SSA.

Qualifying for disability benefits isn’t easy, but Pilzer Klein can help.

Attorney Don Pilzer outlines the steps you need to follow to win disability benefits.

Karen K., Greenville, SC


“I was very satisfied with my experience with Don Pilzer’s law firm. Barbara Lam was my attorney and I was very impressed with her. I was also impressed with her paralegal, Patti Harris. Both were very nice to me and always showed concern for me and my issues. I was turned down by Social Security for my disability. I contacted Don Pilzer’s law firm and was assigned to Barbara Lam because of the county I lived in. In less than 1 year from my original filing for disability, they were successful in getting my disability approved. Anyone seeking disability should call Don Pilzer! Wonderful attorneys and caring human beings! I will definitely refer anyone I know to Don Pilzer!”