Obtaining Social Security benefits can be a frustrating and lengthy process for many applicants. The Social Security Administration denies most applications for disability benefits. Applicants usually have to request a reconsideration and a disability hearing before receiving a favorable decision. If the Social Security Administration has notified you that your application for disability benefits was approved, congratulations.
You can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that you will be receiving the monthly disability benefits you deserve. You are probably also wondering what to do next? The hard part is over, but some things still need to happen before your disability benefits begin arriving. Additionally, you will have some ongoing obligations to continue receiving benefits.
Understanding What a Fully Favorable Disability Decision Means
The notice of decision will be somewhat different depending on where you are in the process. The Social Security Administration denied your claim at the initial application reconsideration level. You probably requested a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. After the hearing, you will receive a notice of the decision in the mail. There are two types of decisions at this stage, fully favorable or partially favorable.
Both types of decisions mean that you have been approved for benefits. The only difference between them is when your disability benefits will start. If you received a fully favorable decision, that means that the judge agreed that your disability onset date was the date you listed on your application. Most often, this is the day that you stop working. If you received a partially favorable decision, the judge decided that your disability onset date was after the date you list it on your application.
Notice of Award
Approximately three months after you receive a notice that your benefits have been approved, you will receive a notice of award. However, it can take longer depending on your local Social Security Administration field office’s caseload. The notice of an award answers most of the initial questions people have about their disability benefits, including:
- The amount of disability benefits you have been awarded
- Your disability onset date
- The month in which you will begin receiving benefits
- The amount of any past-due benefits or disability back pay to which you are entitled
- The dates on which you should expect to receive your disability back pay
- The date on which you can expect to undergo a continuing disability review
Appealing an Aspect of the Favorable Decision
If you disagree with any information in your notice of award, you have the right to appeal the decision. Even if you have been granted benefits, you may just agree with another aspect of the notice, such as the onset date or the month you should begin receiving your benefits. For example, you may believe that you are entitled to more in disability back pay than stated in the award. Alternatively, you may believe that your monthly benefit amount should be higher. If so, we recommend discussing your case with an experienced disability attorney so you can appeal the decision.
The notice you receive will explain the steps you need to take to file an appeal. You may be concerned that you will not receive your benefits if you appeal any aspect of the notice of award. However, during the appeal process, you will continue receiving the monthly benefits indicated in the award letter. If you are successful in your appeal, the Social Security Administration adjusts the payments as necessary.
The Post-Effectuation Review Conference
If you receive Social Security Income (SSI) benefits and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you will be required to have a pre-effectuation review conference (PERC). This conference will determine whether you still meet the eligibility guidelines for SSI benefits. A PERC is not required if you only receive SSDI benefits.
Continuing Disability Review (CDR)
People often assume that once they have qualified for benefits, the process is done. However, you will need to continue demonstrating that you are eligible for benefits. Continuing disability reviews are required for every recipient of SSDI benefits. Even though this process may sound intimidating or stressful, these types of reviews are not an issue for recipients most of the time. The purpose of the review is to allow the Social Security Administration to decide whether your disability still prevents you from working. Over 90% of SSDI recipients are approved for continued benefits after a continuing disability review.
When the Social Security Administration approves your application, it assigns recipients to one of three medical categories. These categories are determined based on the severity and nature of your disability and the likelihood that your condition will improve. The assigned category determines how frequently you will need to undergo a continuing disability review. The three categories are as follows:
- Medical improvement expected: you will need to undergo a review once every six to 18 months
- Medical improvement possible: you will need to undergo a review once every three years
- Medical improvement not expected: you will need to undergo a review once every seven years, but no more than once every five years
Keeping Your Information Up-to-Date
As a recipient of Social Security disability insurance, you are required to inform the Social Security Administration about any changes that could affect your eligibility for benefits. If your medical condition or income changes, you must notify the social security information. Even though you will be asked about this information during your CDRs, you should not wait until the next CDR to notify the Social Security Administration of any changes. You are required to notify them immediately. You should also inform them of any changes to your mailing address or your bank account. Failure to do so could result in your benefits being held up.
Discuss Your Case With a Disability Attorney
If you have been approved for Social Security benefits but you have questions, or you would like to appeal an aspect of the decision, you need an experienced attorney on your side. Contact the New York Social Security disability attorneys at Stanley Law Offices today to schedule your free initial consultation.