Self Help for First Time Social Security Disability Applicants

Social Security Disability is a national disability insurance funded by your tax payments.

Supplemental Security Income is a national insurance that is based on income. You may qualify for SSI while you are applying for disability.

Applying for and receiving Social Security Disability Benefits is a multi-step process. Here at David Gantt Law Office, we handle Social Security Disability cases from the point of first denial. Essentially we are appellate counsel for Social Security Disability applicants who have been denied benefits. This page is meant to be a roadmap of how the system works and what you can expect.

In the vast majority of cases, acquiring Social Security Disability benefits is a three (3) part process, with each part having multiple steps. Essentially the three (3) parts are application, first and second appeals. The tabs below will provide more information on each step.

Create Your Personal SSD File Now

While your Social Security interviewer will provide you a list, you will want to have the following items on hand, both for the initial telephone conversation and personal interview, if required. You should put these items together before starting your initial application and to maintain copies of this information in a file with your Social Security Disability correspondence. You will be asked for this same information several different times during your application process.

Information About You

  • Your date and place of birth and Social Security number
  • The name, Social Security number and date of birth or age of your current spouse and any former spouse.
  • You should also know the dates and places of marriage and dates of divorce or death (if appropriate)
  • Names and dates of birth of your minor children
  • Your bank or other financial institution’s Routing Transit Number [more info] and the account number, if you want the benefits electronically deposited

Information About Your Medical Condition

  • Name, address and phone number of someone we can contact who knows about your medical conditions and can help with your application
  • Detailed information about your medical illnesses, injuries or conditions:
    • Names, addresses, phone numbers, patient ID numbers and dates of treatment for all doctors, hospitals and clinics;
    • Names of medicines you are taking and who prescribed them; and
    • Names and dates of medical tests you have had and who sent you for them.

Information About Your Work

  • The amount of money earned last year and this year
  • The name and address of your employer(s) for this year and last year
  • A copy of your Social Security Statement
  • The beginning and ending dates of any active U.S. military service you had before 1968
  • A list of the jobs (up to 5) that you had in the 15 years before you became unable to work and the dates you worked at those jobs
  • Information about any workers’ compensation, black lung, and/or similar benefits you filed, or intend to file for. These benefits can:
    • Be temporary or permanent in nature;
    • Include annuities and lump sum payments that you received in the past;
    • Be paid by your employer or your employer’s insurance carrier, private agencies, or Federal, State or other government or public agencies; and
    • Be referred to as:
      • Workers’ Compensation;
      • Black Lung Benefits;
      • Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation;
      • Civil Service (Disability) Retirement;
      • Federal Employees’ Retirement;
      • Federal Employees’ Compensation;
      • State or local government disability insurance benefits; or
      • Disability benefits from the military (This includes military retirement pensions based on disability but not Veterans’ Administration (VA) benefits.)
  • Timeframe: 3-6 months

First step:

Apply online here:
Completing this application survey online triggers the Social Security Administration to make contact with you.


Set an appointment with an interviewer by calling the office nearest your home:

  • Asheville: 866-572-8361
  • Hendersonville: 866-964-5053
  • Franklin: 866-562-0738

For your appointment, you will need a photo ID to gain access to the Social Security Administration building.

What Happens Next:

Once your initial interview has been completed, your claim for benefits is forwarded to Disability Determination Services and assigned to a claims examiner. The claims examiner:

  • will obtain and review your medical records
  • may schedule a disability examination with a Social Security retained physician
  • will make a determination of disability based on a rigorous set of Social Security guidelines, which do not include claims examiner discretion of any kind

In most cases (as high as 90%) applicants will receive a denial of benefits, even when other medical professionals have assigned disability ratings. Upon receipt of your denial of benefits call David Gantt Law Office at 828-252-2852.

Additional Things to Keep in Mind Throughout the Process

If you are granted Social Security disability, the payment formula is based on lifetime earnings and FICA taxes you have paid. Some factors that influence a determination of disability include:

  • age
  • blindness
  • illiteracy and/or higher education
  • Timeframe: 3-6 months
  • Call David Gantt Law Office at 828-252-2852

Request for Reconsideration

Your Request for Reconsideration of your initial denial places your file in cycle to undergo the exact process you’ve just been through in the application process. You can expect the same outcome. The only difference is that a different claims examiner is assigned to review your benefit application. Almost al reconsiderations are denied. Don’t loose hope. Keep your claim appealed.

  • Timeframe: 12-18 months from the date of hearing request
  • no hearing request is available until you have twice been denied benefits
  • most people win their appeal at this level

Request for Administrative Hearing

Obtaining a hearing before an Administrative Judge is the longest segment of this process. It takes between twelve (12) and eighteen (18) months to acquire a hearing date from the time your formal request for hearing is made. Your request to have an Administrative Law Judge review your case cannot take place until your claim for benefits has been denied twice.

The vast majority of claimants will acquire Social Security disability benefits at this juncture. Unlike claims examiners, the Administrative Law Judge has the ability to look at each issue collectively instead of individually, as claims examiners are required to do. Because the Administrative Law Judge has the ability to look at your situation from a holistic perspective, he can take into account how the symphony of issues you may have affect your life. The Administrative Law Judge has a much greater level of discretion than do the claims examiners in the first and second phases of the process.

In the event your claim for disability benefits is denied at this juncture, the next step is application for appeal to the Social Security Disability Appeals Council in Falls Church, Virginia. The review by the Appeals Council is a true appellate review, looking for specific judicial error(s) by the Administrative Law Judge.

In the event of denial at the Appeals Council level, the last resort is the filing of a civil lawsuit in Federal District Court. Appeals to the Federal Court are overwhelmingly denied due to the high legal standard of review.

At David Gantt Law Offices, we care tremendously about the experience you have battling Social Security. Once your application process is complete and you have received your initial denial, we can help you remove the stress and worry from the process and guide you through what remains as expeditiously and efficiently as possible.

82 Church Street
Asheville, NC 28801
Phone: 828-252-2852
Toll Free: 800-273-4002
Fax: 828-254-4539

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