Support services play an important role in helping people with disabilities adjust to life in Lake Charles. Organizations like the Southwest Louisiana Independence Center and Families Helping Families of Southwest Louisiana provide needed resources for people with physical or mental conditions that make everyday activities difficult. However, Social Security disability benefits are the most common source of financial assistance. The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and provides monthly payments and other benefits to those who are unable to work due to a disability.
This article is intended to provide a brief guide to applying for SSDI in Lake Charles, Louisiana. If you'd like to learn more, we offer an in-depth look at the process in Your Guide to a Successful Social Security Disability Claim: What Claimants, Their Family Members, and Healthcare Providers Need to Know.
Gathering the Information You'll Need to Complete Your SSDI Application
To make the SSDI application process go as smoothly as possible, it is important to have all of the information you need on hand when submitting your application. Here is a checklist of what you will need:
- Proof of disability from a doctor or medical professional
- Medical records that show continuing care, treatments, and medications
- Previous work history and wages earned (including military service if applicable)
- Information on any other government benefits received
- Your Social Security number and any other relevant ID numbers
- Your bank routing and account number to receive payments electronically after your application has been approved
The SSA will review the 15 years before you claim your disability began to determine if you can do the same kind of work now. If you’re not able to complete the same type of work, the SSA will look at whether your education and professional skills would allow you to perform another position. Your age is considered a factor when determining if you are able to adjust to performing a different type of work, which is why it becomes easier to be approved for SSDI if you are over 50 years old.
Submitting Your Initial Application for SSDI Benefits
You can fill out an application online or in person at the Lake Charles Social Security office located at 149 W 18th St. To fill out the application online, you will need to go through the standard registration process and create a username and password to access your information on the website.
If you wish, an attorney can fill out your SSDI application for you. Having a lawyer complete the application for you may make the process less stressful and help make sure that the form is filled out correctly. Additionally, a lawyer can provide advice on gathering all of the necessary documents and information needed to submit a successful SSDI application.
What to Expect After You Submit Your Application
Unfortunately, it often takes three to six months for the SSA to review your application and most claims are initially denied. However, this doesn’t mean that you should give up. If you have a physical or mental condition that prevents you from doing work you’ve previously done and you are not capable of seeking other employment, you should work with an experienced Social Security disability attorney to take your case through the appeals process.
There are four possible levels of an SSDI appeal: Request for Reconsideration, Request for Hearing, review by the Appeals Council, and filing a federal lawsuit.
1. Request for Reconsideration
Your first appeal is known as a Request for Reconsideration. You can request this within 60 days of receiving your denial letter.
2. Request for Hearing
If your Request for Reconsideration is denied, you have 60 days to request a hearing with an administrative law judge. It can take six to 12 months for your case to be heard at this stage, so patience is key.
3. Appeals Council
You have 60 days to appeal to the Appeals Council if your case is denied by the administrative law judge. The Appeals Council has the authority to send your case back to the administrative law judge if they believe there are issues related to your claim that were incorrectly addressed.
4. Federal Lawsuit
Filing a lawsuit in federal court gives you one final opportunity to get your SSDI application approved. Your attorney can submit briefs at this stage, but no new evidence will be allowed.
Do You Need a Social Security Disability Attorney to Help With Your Lake Charles, Louisiana SSDI Claim?
Applying for SSDI benefits in Lake Charles can be a daunting process, yet having the right help can let you navigate the system with relative ease. Phillip M. Hendry Law is here to be a trusted partner throughout your claim journey. Our firm is dedicated to helping people in Lake Charles and throughout Louisiana get the benefits they are entitled to and will ensure that you have all the support you need through every step of the process.
Complete our online contact form or call (318) 553-5900 to schedule a consultation with our experienced Social Security disability attorney. For your convenience, we offer video conferencing options that let you seek assistance from the comfort of your own home.