People in California may be unsure what it means for the strength of their claims when they receive a swift denial for a Social Security disability application. While it may be disconcerting to receive a denial soon after applying, especially as the process is often known for being lengthy, this does not necessarily mean that the applicant has a poor claim. These first-level decisions are made by a disability examiner, a staff member at disability determination services.

Disability examiners may try to close all of their cases as soon as possible as they do not operate according to deadlines or a strict “first in-first out” timeline. In many cases, the swiftness of a response rests mostly on how quickly the disability examiner received an applicant’s medical records from his or her treating physicians. In some cases, a disability examiner receives the records quickly and may offer a swift response while in other cases, the reply is delayed only because the examiners themselves are still waiting for medical records. Processing time is not a strong indicator of the credibility of an application for disability benefits.

The first appeal stage after being denied Social Security disability benefits at an initial level is a reconsideration appeal. These types of appeals look for clear mistakes and are also carried out by disability examiners. However, after a reconsideration appeal, applicants can request disability hearings before administrative law judges. A hearing may provide applicants with a better opportunity to make their case clear, including introducing additional medical records and information.

At a disability hearing, working with a disability attorney or representative can significantly strengthen an applicant’s case, resulting in a higher likelihood of a positive outcome. People applying for SSD benefits can turn to a lawyer to help them navigate the process and provide representation at a disability hearing.