A disability claim is initiated by filing an Application. If denied, you have the right to appeal. However, appeals have strict filing deadlines.
HOW DOES THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION EVALUATE DISABILITY CLAIMS
The SSA's definition of disability is stricter than private and other public benefit programs. An adult must show, through appropriate medical sources, a physical or mental medical problem which must either have lasted or be expected to last a year or to result in death. The SSA uses a 5 step process to determine if someone is disabled.
Step 1: Are you working? If you are working, SSA will determine if it is substantial gainful activity. If you are not working or your work is not substantial gainful activity, go to Step 2.
Step 2: Is your medical problem severe? If so go to step 3.
Step 3: Does your medical problem meet or equal one of the medical problems listed in the regulations: If not, go to Step 4.
Step 4: Are you able to return to your past work? If not, go to Step 5.
Step 5: Is there any other work you can perform considering the limitations of your medical problem, your age, education, and past work experience. If not, you are disabled.
You do not need a lawyer to apply for a disability benefit. However, your rights are better protected the earlier you contact a lawyer who knows the rules and regulations. A lawyer can help you request your appeal, obtain the necessary medical information and present your case in a fashion most favorable to you.