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Social Security Disability Process

Social Security Disability Process

Michael Pyrros NY Workers Comp Attorneys

New York Social Security Disability Attorneys

The Social Security disability process can be both daunting and confusing. Initially, many legitimate claims are rejected.

At Pyrros, Serres & Rupwani, decades of experience helping thousands of clients with social security disability issues and SSI gives our attorneys a thorough understanding and exceptional knowledge of the process. Our lawyers can take your Social Security disability appeal at any stage of the process, whether you have just received notice of denial or you have initiated the appeal process.

Initial Applications

You can apply for Social Security Disability when you have been out of work for five months and are expected to be out of work for at least a year. Medical records are obtained and submitted to the Social Security Administration to support your application. the majority of cases are denied at this level and must be appealed within 60 days.

Appeal for Administrative Hearing

An attorney who has extensive experience with social security disability claims and appeals is your best chance of a positive outcome in an appeal concerning wrongful denial of a valid Social Security disability claim.

At an administrative hearing, you appear before an Administrative Law Judge to testify regarding your impairments and limitations. Subsequently, a written Notice of Decision will be rendered. If denied at the Appeals Council hearing level, you have 60 days to appeal your claim. The Appeals Council can reverse, remand or deny your claim.

When you retain our firm to protect your legal rights in a Social Security disability appeal, we will start with a thorough investigation of the facts and circumstances of your injury or illness. Working closely with you, your attorney will gather, review and assess all documentation, including medical records and will prepare and file any pleadings or other forms required during the process.

We understand that every case is unique and you can rest assured that we will take the time to learn the details of your situation, so that we can formulate the best strategy to appeal a claims denial and obtain positive results. Throughout your case, we make every effort to return your calls promptly and keep you up to date on the status of your case, so that you always know where you stand.

Understanding the Social Security Disability Process in New York

When you are hurt or develop certain medical conditions and can’t work at the same level you could before (or at all), you might qualify for the Social Security Disability process. However, the process for disability benefits is complex, and the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies many disability claims.

At Pyrros, Serres, & Rupwani LLP, our Social Security Disability lawyers in New York have years of experience fighting for disability claims. If you need help with the Social Security Disability application process or filing an appeal after a denial, contact us.


What disability benefits does the SSA offer? You might be able to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or both. What is the difference between the two programs?

With SSI, you must be 65 or older, be blind, or have a disability (at any age), as well as have limited income and assets. You would also automatically qualify for Medicaid with approval for SSI. SSI provides essential financial assistance for low-income older adults or people with disabilities regardless of age.

SSDI provides financial coverage for disabled people with a qualifying work history based on age, education, and work experience. Additionally, someone receiving SSDI will automatically qualify for Medicare after receiving disability benefits for 24 months, although the waiting period is waived for anyone with ALS receiving SSDI.

If you have both a qualifying work history and limited income and assets, you may qualify for both SSI and SSDI.

How Does the Social Security Administration Determine That You’re Disabled?


The SSA considers you disabled if:

  • You can no longer work due to a qualifying medical condition
  • You can’t do the same work you performed before the onset of your disability
  • You can’t perform other work due to your disability, as determined by the New York Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance
  • Your disability has lasted or will last for over a year, or your condition will lead to your death

When you complete your Social Security Disability application, a local SSA or Disability Determination Service (DDS) office will process your application and consider the medical evidence for your claim to make a determination on your disability status. Having our experienced Social Security Disability lawyers in NYC on your side can help you provide accurate information on your application.

How to Apply for Disability Benefits

The SSA rejects many disability claims due to a lack of medical evidence or incomplete forms. The SSA may also deny your claim if you currently earn more than $1,000 per month.

However, if you have a condition similar to or more severe than a condition on the Listing of Impairments, the SSA may consider it valid to approve your disability claim. If your condition is not as severe as something on the list, the SSA will consider your work history.

To apply for Social Security Disability benefits in New York, you must complete the initial application. New York has historically approved initial applications at a slightly higher rate than the national average. The state has also approved applications at a higher rate than the national level for reconsiderations and hearings.

Reconsideration is the phase after an initial application rejection. During this phase, you can request that the office where you submitted your application review your application and reconsider their original decision. You only have 60 days from the original decision to request reconsideration of your application.

If the SSA office denies your application again, you can request a formal hearing. During the hearing, an administrative law judge (ALJ) will hear testimony, ask questions, and evaluate evidence for your disability claim. Having an experienced Social Security Disability attorney from our firm with you at the hearing can help you gather and present essential evidence for your claim.

It can take approximately 60 days after a hearing to hear from the judge about their determination. You have additional Social Security Disability appeal process steps available if the ALJ at your hearing denies your claim.

How an Attorney Can Help You Through the Social Security Disability Process

Social Security Disability Attorney in Queens

The Social Security Disability process can be confusing, and the local SSA offices may not have the resources to help you file your application correctly the first time. Contact us at Pyrros, Serres, & Rupwani LLP to help you through each step of the process to apply for disability benefits with Social Security.

We can help you complete your initial application accurately with the appropriate medical evidence for your claim, as well as file the necessary paperwork for reconsideration. If your claim goes to a formal hearing before the ALJ, we can help you find expert witnesses, medical documentation, and other evidence for your claim.

Contact an Experienced SSDI Attorney in New York

Applying for Social Security Disability benefits in New York is a complex process. Turn to our experienced attorneys at Pyrros, Serres, & Rupwani LLP to help you with your claim from step one. When you’re ready to begin the Social Security Disability process, call us at (718) 626-7730 or contact us online to schedule your free case evaluation.

Common Mistakes To Avoid on Your SSD Application

Over two million people apply for disability benefits in the United States every year. However, as any SSD lawyer in New York knows, the odds of approval are low. Over two-thirds (67%) of disability claims are denied.

With such a low approval rate, it’s important to ensure that an SSDI application error doesn’t send your claim to the rejection pile. As experienced New York Social Security disability claims lawyers, we at Pyrros, Serres & Rupwani know all about avoiding the pitfalls that can hurt your chances of receiving disability benefits.

While claims can be denied for various causes, common reasons typically fall into two broad categories. 

Failing To Meet Eligibility Requirements

Some SSDI eligibility requirements are determined before you apply for benefits. In 2021, the SSA denied around 43% of initial applications before even assessing the applicants’ medical conditions. 

The SSA calls these non-medical rejections “technical denials” because they represent the applicant’s failure to meet the program’s basic requirements. For example, if you have not worked long enough, recently enough, or at a job covered by Social Security, you will not qualify for SSDI benefits.

Other eligibility requirements are more within your control at the time of application. Common mistakes Social Security disability lawyers in New York see include the following:

Filing Too Soon

To qualify for SSDI, you must have a condition that has lasted or is expected to last for a year or more. Applying immediately after the onset of your impairment may not give you time to gather medical evidence of your disability. Without that proof, the SSA will likely deny your claim.

Waiting Too Long To Apply

While applying for SSDI too soon is potentially problematic, the opposite is also true. If you are not working and don’t apply quickly, you risk running out of money before your benefits come through. 

Even with a prompt application, your SSD lawyer in New York will tell you that you may have to wait months for approval. In addition, there is a five-month waiting period after approval before you can receive your first payment.

Not Following Medical Advice

Another reason for denial is failing to follow through on your doctor’s treatment plan. The SSA may wonder whether following doctor’s orders would have restored your ability to work. If you don’t comply with medical advice, you need to have a valid reason for doing so. Otherwise, your examiner may assume this noncompliance is contributing to your disability.

Applying While Working

Social Security benefits revolve around a concept known as substantial gainful activity (SGA), essentially referring to any activity that earns you an income. While you can potentially work while applying for SSDI, exceeding the SGA level will trigger a denial of your application.

As of 2024, the monthly SGA amount is $2,590 for blind individuals and $1,500 for non-blind individuals. Consult our Social Security disability lawyers in NYC to discuss how work affects your eligibility.

Making Mistakes on the Application

Applying for SSD Benefits

Now, you know the importance of following medical advice, not applying too soon, and exercising caution when applying while working. Once you start filling out the forms, what are some common application mistakes to watch out for?

Submitting Incorrect Information

All the details in your application should be correct, including phone numbers, work history, employer information, prescription names, and financial data. If there are inaccuracies — or missing details — an examiner will reject your application or return it for further information. If they send it back for you to answer questions or fill out incomplete sections, your application will move to the end of the line.

Providing Inadequate Medical Documentation

Successful SSDI applications require extensive documentation of your disability and how it limits your ability to work. Medical evidence must include records showing your diagnosis and treatment, including exam findings, surgical procedures, rehabilitation efforts, prescription medications, etc. The more applicable medical documentation you include, the better your chances of success.

Missing Important Deadlines

Like many other government programs, SSDI has strict deadlines. For example, if you don’t respond to a request for additional information, the SSA can deny your claim. If your initial application is denied, you only have 60 days to file an appeal. If you miss the deadline, you’ll have to start again.

Not Cooperating With the SSA

Besides meeting deadlines, you must follow all SSA rules and procedures carefully. You must fill out all the required forms, supply the necessary information, show up for medical exams, respond promptly to requests, and stay in contact with your examiner. If you do not, they may deny your claim. A denial for non-cooperation is difficult to appeal unless you can prove a valid medical reason.

Filing a New Application Rather Than an Appeal

Many SSDI applicants who receive a denial simply file a new application. This strategy can backfire for several reasons. For starters, unless you’ve corrected the shortcomings of your first application, the SSA may deny your second on the same grounds. In addition, re-applying restarts your filing date, which can cost you weeks or months of benefits.

Importantly, examiners also frown upon the decision to re-apply rather than going through the appeals process. They may think you are trying to sidestep the first rejection. A denial of your application based on a prior denial is also difficult to reverse. 

Applying Without a Lawyer

As is probably clear by now, applying for New York Social Security disability benefits is neither easy nor straightforward. If you’re dealing with a debilitating illness at the same time, the whole process can feel overwhelming. Hiring legal representation to help you during the claims process can take a weight off your shoulders. 

An SSD lawyer in New York from Pyrros, Serres & Rupwani can help you do the following:

  • Avoid potential pitfalls in the SSDI application process
  • Ensure that your application has all the required documentation
  • Proofread your application to avoid errors and missing information
  • Keep track of deadlines and submit information on time
  • Correct mistakes in a submitted application
  • Handle the appeals process in case of a denial

Call our firm at (718) 626-7730 to schedule a free consultation.


Check out our FAQ to learn more about SSDI benefits.

How long does it take New York SSA offices to process disability claims?

The average wait time for an SSA hearing in New York State is 8.8 months, generally taking nearly a year total between the initial application and the ALJ’s final decision.

How many work credits do you need to qualify for SSDI?

The number of work credits you need to qualify for SSDI depends on your age at the time of disability. Between 21 to 24 years old, you need six credits. Between 24 to 30, you need six to 18 credits, depending on the age of your disability. Thirty-one or older requires at least 20 work credits in the previous 10 years.

Why was my claim denied?

The SSA denies disability claims for a number of reasons and doesn’t always inform an applicant why their claim was denied.

Learn more about the Social Security Disability process, request assistance with denied SSI disability claims, and more with our help.

What is the five-year rule for Social Security disability?

The five-year rule for Social Security disability expedites the application process for those who previously qualified for benefits. If you received disability benefits, stopped receiving them, and became unable to work again within five years, you can skip the required waiting period. 

What happens to my SSD benefits when I turn 65?

When you turn 65, your SSD account will automatically convert into Social Security retirement benefits. How much you receive depends on how much you contributed to Social Security when you worked.

What is a Social Security Trial Work Period?

A Social Security Trial Work Period (TWP) allows you to transition back to work while receiving full SSDI benefits. You can work for up to nine months (not necessarily consecutive) within a five-year period to test your ability to work. The TWP ends when you’ve accrued nine months of work, or the SSA determines that you no longer qualify for benefits.

How does drug or alcohol addiction affect my disability claim?

The SSA can deny your disability claim if it determines that drug or alcohol use contributes to your disability. If it decides that 1) drugs or alcohol are not worsening your impairment and 2) stopping their use would not improve your condition enough to allow you to work, you can still receive benefits.

Meet Our Attorneys

Michael C. Pyrros received his bachelor’s degree from American University in Washington, D.C. in 1985.
Michael Serres is a 1989 graduate of St. John’s University School of Law. Mr. Serres was admitted to practice law in New York.
Nicholas Rupwani has been practicing workers’ compensation law since August 2004.