Social Security Disability

The Dennison Law Firm helps hundreds of South Carolinians each year in obtaining Social Security Disability benefits. From physical impairments such as back injuries and fibromyalgia to mental conditions and other psychiatric disorders, we successfully assist eligible and deserving applicants in receiving all of the benefits available to them.

What Should I Know About Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits in South Carolina?

When you are applying for or appealing a denial of Social Security disability benefits, patience and perseverance are key.


You need patience because the Social Security Administration is overwhelmed with disability claims and yours will move through the system slowly, especially if it requires appeals.

Being out of work and facing mounting medical bills may make the process seem even slower than it is. While there is much a Greenville disability attorney can do to help your claim, there is generally no way for him or her to speed up the SSA decision-making process.


Perseverance is important because many claimants have their applications denied despite having physical or mental impairments that keep them from working. However, those claimants who appeal their denial through the administrative law judge hearing are awarded benefits more often than not.

How Are Social Security Disability Claims Evaluated?

Application Level

Your application for Social Security disability benefits will first be evaluated by a state government agency contracted by the Social Security Administration. Generally, a two-person team consisting of a doctor and a layperson will evaluate your claim. 35 percent of applicants are awarded benefits at this stage, and of the 65 percent who are denied, most (52 percent) will not appeal. This failure to appeal is the biggest mistake claimants make.

Reconsideration Level

If you appeal your initial denial, your claim will be reconsidered by another two-person team at the same state agency. They will consider the same factors and will probably come to the same conclusion as the first team. Only 15 percent of appellants are approved at this stage. Of those who are denied, 30 percent will fail to file another appeal.

Hearing Level

The third stage is the hearing in front of an administrative law judge. This is where you have the best chance of being awarded benefits, and it is also where a Greenville disability attorney can do the most good. 55 percent of applicants who appeal until they have a hearing are approved.

Appeals Council and Federal Court

If the administrative law judge denies your claim, you can continue to appeal to the Appeals Council (as 45 percent of people do), and eventually to federal court, as a few people do, but your chances of being awarded benefits beyond this point are small. The Appeals Council or the federal court may, however, order another administrative law judge hearing. They do this in 25 percent and 50 percent of cases, respectively.

How Long Does It Take?

It typically takes four months to get your initial decision, but it can take up to four years to appeal your case all the way through federal court, broken down as follows:

  • 4 months for the initial decision;
  • 3-5 months for the reconsideration decision;
  • 15-18 months for the administrative law judge hearing;
  • 12-18 months for an Appeals Council decision;
  • 18 months for a federal court decision.

You can therefore expect it to take a little under two years if your case goes to the hearing stage and no further. Your attorney may have more up-to-date information about the wait times in your area. If you are not already represented by a Greenville disability attorney, please contact the Dennison Law Firm, PC for a free claim evaluation.