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A Simplified Guide to the Social Security Disability Application Process

Stack of papersHow do you apply for disability in Arkansas? How do you apply for Social Security disability benefits in Arkansas?

To receive Social Security Disability benefits, you must first complete a Social Security Disability application packet to determine your eligibility. You need to file as soon as you become disabled or unable to work, as the evaluation process can take up to five months. The Social Security Administration (SSA) supports your right to hire an attorney to assist with the application and appeal process, so use this tactic to complete your application correctly and improve your odds of a successful outcome.


The most common reasons for technical denial of a Social Security Disability application are missing, inflated, or inaccurate documents and information. This happens with 31% of applications. To make sure your application is complete, verify that you have the following items:

  • Proof of citizenship
  • Marriage and/or divorce papers
  • Employment status and history
  • All medical records and test results
  • Correct work and doctor contact information


Once you submit your Social Security Disability application, your packet will be evaluated on whether it meets the basic requirements for disability benefits. This involves verifying your current work activities and if you have worked enough years to qualify for benefits. Your application then goes to the state Disability Determination Services office. They will evaluate your medical condition, contact your doctors, and request additional medical exams if necessary.

This five-step evaluation is used to determine your eligibility:

  1. If you are still working and earning a certain amount each month, you are not eligible.
  2. If you are still able to perform basic work-related activities (such as walking, sitting, and standing) you are not eligible.
  3. Your condition must be listed on the Social Security Listing of Impairments or meet the same level of severity as a listed condition. If your condition is not on the list, you are ineligible.
  4. If you do not meet the impairment criteria, you will be evaluated on your ability to perform your work duties. If you can perform these duties, you are not eligible.
  5. If you can work in other areas or jobs, despite your condition, you are not eligible.

If your Social Security Disability application is approved, you will receive a letter showing the amount of your monthly benefits and when to expect your first payment (generally six months after your disability began). If you are denied, you will receive a letter explaining this decision with instructions on how to file an appeal.


If you do not agree with the reasons why your Social Security Disability application is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision within 60 days of receiving your denial letter. There are four appeal processes you can follow:


A reconsideration is a complete review of your original application by a different Social Security representative that may require submitting new documents or additional proof of disability.


If your application is denied again, you can request a hearing with an administrative law judge either in person or by video conference.


If the judge denies your appeal, you can request a review by the Social Security Appeals Council. If they approve a review of your case, they may make the decision or send your application to a new administrative law judge.


If the previous three appeal processes still deny your claim, you have the right to file a lawsuit in federal district court.

Did you know that 62% of applications are denied by the SSA? Hiring an attorney with experience assisting clients though the Social Security Disability application process can improve your chances of receiving disability benefits. Schedule a free consultation with the Social Security Disability attorneys at Caddell Reynolds by calling (800) 889-6944.