How to File for Social Security Disability Benefits in Pennsylvania

Social Security Disability benefits are given to individuals who are too ill to perform their normal work. No matter what state you live in, you’ll need to send your completed application and signed forms — including all pertinent information — to your local Social Security Administration office. You can also submit your application online at or mail your application to the local office.

The applications forms are considered complex and detailed by most people. The additional information you’ll need to include, such as information on doctors’ visits, hospital records and more, also makes for a long application process.

The Steps to File for Disability

In general, if you’re planning to file for Social Security Disability benefits, you must:

  • Prepare for your initial application – This is your first point of contact when applying for disability benefits. The application includes a fact sheet detailing the definition of disability, a checklist of information required by the Social Security Administration in order to apply, and a worksheet to help you gather the required information.
  • Plan for the interview – If you don’t apply for benefits online, you may be interviewed by phone or in-person at the local office by a Social Security claims representative. The interview usually takes at least one hour and will review your checklist and other pertinent information.
  • Wait for your outcome – Once the Social Security Administration has all your information, they will make a decision either approving or denying your claim. If you’re denied, don’t panic — about two thirds of all Social Security Disability benefits claims are denied at the initial stage.
  • Submit reconsideration If you were denied benefits, you’ll have the opportunity to restate your case and offer more evidence during an appeal called a Request for Reconsideration. The Social Security Administration will then make a second determination about your disability, and either approve or deny your claim.
  • Submit an appeal – If you’re denied benefits again at the Reconsideration stage don’t panic. About 87% of claims are denied at the Reconsideration stage. You will need to file a second appeal, called a Request for Hearing, to continue the pursuit of your claim by having your case heard by an Administrative Law Judge.
Filing for Social Security Disability Benefits: Pennsylvania’s Difference

Pennsylvania is different. Unlike many other states, Pennsylvania eliminates the Reconsideration step. Thus, when you appeal a denial of an intial claim for benefits you are automatically filing a Request for Hearing. A hearing in front of a judge takes its place during the first appeal stage. You or your attorney must submit the appeal in writing within 60 days of receiving your determination letter.

Ritacco Disability Law

We know the application process for Social Security Disability benefits can be difficult and confusing. If you live in Pennsylvania, or know someone who is applying for disability benefits, call us today for a free consultation.