The Social Security Disability
Experts Since 1984

How to Apply for Disability in Fresno, CA

In the past, applying for disability benefits meant contacting the Social Security Administration (SSA) and requesting an application. Today, there are a number of faster ways to apply, including online, by telephone, or by visiting your local SSA office. However, the majority of initial applications are denied, so it’s crucial to have legal representation regardless of how your application is submitted.

Peña & Bromberg is a premier disability benefits law firm serving clients in Fresno, CA and throughout the United States. Our dedicated legal team routinely helps clients navigate the disability application process and works to ensure they obtain benefits

How to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits in California

The Social Security Disability application process can be confusing and overwhelming. The lawyers at Peña & Bromberg help disabled individuals through every step.

Whether applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you need to file a claim. The SSA will then review your application, which can be a lengthy process.

You will be required to provide specific personal information, including medical records from your treating physician that support your disability claim. In some cases, it may also be necessary to undergo a consultative exam.

What Medical Records are Needed to Apply for Disability?

When you apply for SSDI or SSI, you’ll need to provide documentation that supports your claim. This includes medical evidence in the form of medical history records, test results, current and previous treatment results, and doctors’ reports.

Additionally, the SSA requests information regarding your physical and mental capabilities. Examples include how able you are to perform certain work-related activities, such as lifting, carrying, standing, walking, sitting, understanding and remembering instructions, etc.

When gathering information, it’s easy to miss essential documents the SSA could reference to grant you benefits. Our experienced disability attorneys at Peña & Bromberg will make sure all necessary information is included in your application and nothing is overlooked.

Eligibility Requirements

In order to be eligible for disability benefits, you must be unable to perform Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). This means if you’re working at the time your application is submitted, your claim may be denied.

Other eligibility requirements include:

  • Your disability must meet the SSA’s definition of disability.
  • Your physical or mental disability is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.

The lawyers at Peña & Bromberg are here to make sure you get the best chances of receiving the benefits you need. If you’re unsure of how to go about filing your claim, or whether you even qualify for disability benefits, contact us to schedule a free consultation.

How to Apply for Disability in CA – SSDI VS SSI

SSDI Requirements

SSDI is distributed to disabled individuals who have paid into the Social Security System by working. Eligibility requirements for SSDI applicants include:

  • Your disability must meet the SSA’s definition of disability.
  • Your physical or mental disability is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.
  • You must have earned enough work credits throughout your life to receive benefits. (The number of work credits that are required depend on your work history and age at the time you became disabled.)
  • You must have worked recently enough to qualify for benefits.

Generally, you must acquire 40 credits, half of which must be earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you became disabled. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.

SSI Requirements

Eligibility requirements for SSDI are slightly different than those for SSI applicants. SSI benefits are distributed to disabled individuals with extremely limited income and resources who don’t have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI.

In order to apply for SSI disability in California, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • You must be over age 65, blind, or disabled.
  • Your disability must meet the SSA’s definition of disability.
  • You must have extremely limited income and resources (according to the SSA).
  • Your physical or mental disability is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.
  • You are a U.S. citizen or a noncitizen who is a qualified alien or in one of certain alien classifications granted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

If you need help navigating the SSI or SSDI application process, reach out to the lawyers at Peña & Bromberg. We’re highly experienced in representing a variety of Social Security Disability claims.

How Social Security Disability Benefits Claims are Evaluated

Disability applications are processed through SSA field offices and Disability Determination Services, or DDSs. First, a field office representative will look at your application and determine if you meet the non-medical eligibility requirements. For example, they’ll decide whether or not you have earned sufficient work credits to qualify for disability benefits. Work credits are based on your total annual wages or self-employment income.

If your claim is determined to be eligible for further review, it will be evaluated by Disability Determination Services.

The Disability Determination Services Process

The Disability Determination Services office will make the ultimate decision on whether to approve or deny your claim. The review process begins by examining the information and medical records included in your application.

The SSA references the Blue Book to determine qualifying medical conditions. However, the DDS can approve your claim regardless of whether or not your specific impairment is under a qualifying listing. This is because the goal is to find out if you’re unable to perform SGA.

If the DDS examiner finds the provided medical information is insufficient to prove you’re disabled, a consultative exam may be necessary. The consultative exam may be performed by an independent medical professional selected by the SSA.

Once the DDS approves or denies your claim, a letter will be sent to you notifying you of the decision. If the claim is approved, you will be informed of the monthly benefit amount and the date those benefits begin. In some cases, benefits may be retroactive to the date that you became disabled. This is one reason why it’s critical to initiate a claim with the SSA as soon as possible.

If your claim is denied, you will have the chance to appeal the decision. It’s important to have a qualified attorney on your side if you plan to appeal. The appeals process is complex, and while most initial disability claims are denied, the rate of approved appeals is even lower.

Why Contact Our Experienced Disability Attorneys

Your claim will be approved or denied based on the information provided in your application. This is why it’s crucial there are no errors and all required documentation is included. However, without the help of a qualified disability attorney, it’s easy to miss a step in the SSD filing process.

At Peña & Bromberg, we have the knowledge and skills necessary to help you file correctly and increase your chances of receiving benefits. Our legal team will help collect the right information to support your claim. We will also work closely with your medical team to ensure that all records are complete and accurate.

If you’ve already filed for disability and your application was denied, we’re also able to assist you through the appeals process. At this stage, working with our experienced attorneys will improve your chances of claim approval. We will also give you an honest assessment of your chances for success before filing your appeal.

Contact Us

At Peña & Bromberg, our team is dedicated to helping disabled individuals obtain the benefits they need. Call our office at (559) 439-9700 to schedule a free consultation or contact us online.

Peña & Bromberg serves clients throughout Central Valley, California, including San Francisco Bay, Oakland, Bakersfield, Madera, Stockton, Fresno, Sacramento, and Modesto. We assist Social Security Disability and Veterans Disability clients nationwide.

Member – National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR).

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