Applying for Social Security Disability benefits can be a frustrating process. It can be especially frustrating if you’ve just received a denial letter from Social Security. It may be hard to know what to do next. But don’t worry! This article will help break down what a denial letter means and how to appeal your case so that you can get the benefits you deserve.
What Does Receiving a Disability Denial Letter Mean?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) sends disability denial letters to inform you that they assessed your claim and found that you are not eligible for benefits. The denial letter will include basic information about your case, like the date of your disability onset, your diagnosis, and whether you are currently working. It will also list the specific reason for denial and provide instructions on how to appeal the decision.
Some of the most common reasons for denial of disability benefits include:
- you missed one or more paperwork deadlines
- you turned in incomplete paperwork
- you did not provide sufficient medical evidence showing you meet the criteria of an SSA disability listing
- you had conflicting medical information in your records
- you have failed to follow prescribed medical therapy according to the SSA
- you can work past jobs or other jobs within your education level according to the SSA
As frustrating as it can be to get a denial letter, it gives you valuable information that you can use when submitting an appeal. You’ll know what type of evidence needs to be included when filing an appeal and what arguments need to be made for your appeal to have a higher chance of being awarded.
How to Appeal a Denial of Disability Benefits
The SSA gives you 60 days from the date they sent you your denial letter to file an appeal of the decision. There are four phases of appealing a disability denial.
Request for Reconsideration. During this phase, someone who was not involved in the initial disability determination will thoroughly review your claim. The claims examiner assigned to you will review the evidence you submitted when you first applied, as well as any additional information you provide.
Request for Hearing. If they deny your claim again at Reconsideration, you can appeal to the next level, known as an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing. At a hearing, the judge who hears your case has all the information and evidence from your original claim and any additional information you have supplied. The judge can ask you questions, listen to evidence, or have the evidence presented by a medical expert and/or a vocational expert, which is a person who is an expert in the field related to your disability. The judge will also listen to the arguments of you or your legal representative.
Appeals Council. If the ALJ decides you are not disabled, you may appeal to the Appeals Council. You can file your appeal to the Appeals Council within 60 days of the judge’s decision. Appeals Council decisions are based on the record, including medical evidence, you already have. Generally, the Appeals Council does not allow you to present your case again.
Federal Court Review. If the Appeals Council denies you, you can then appeal to the Federal Court. When filing an appeal to the federal court, you need to file your appeal within 90 days of the Council’s decision. During the Federal Court Review, a federal judge is assigned to your case specifically to determine whether the ALJ followed the proper procedure during your disability hearing and whether the ALJ made an error in denying your disability benefits.
Getting Help Appealing Your Disability Denial
If you have received a disability denial letter and decided to appeal the decision, you may want to seek legal representation. A disability attorney will have the knowledge and experience to handle your appeal that you do not. The attorney can assist you in appealing a denial by gathering supporting evidence and documentation and presenting a compelling case that you are unable to work. An attorney can also help you avoid mistakes that could jeopardize your claim and represent you during each stage of the appeal process.
Brock & Stout’s disability attorneys have over 25 years of experience helping clients fight against disability denials. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your situation to see if we can help you get the benefits you deserve.