Have you filed a claim for Social Security disability benefits and been denied? This can be a hard blow to receive. If you have been denied, you should not give up on receiving benefits. SSA allows applicants to appeal denials.
The SSA appeals process is a multi-step process that is best approached carefully. Knowing what to expect during the appeals process can make the experience a little less overwhelming.
Request for Reconsideration
The initial step after receiving a denial letter is to file a Request for Reconsideration. You must do this within 60 days of receiving your denial letter. During reconsideration, a new examiner reviews your original claim and any additional information you provide. Your denial letter usually explains what was lacking in the documents you sent with the original claim. So, the reconsideration offers a chance to send the additional needed information that could help your claim.
Administrative Law’s Judge Hearing
If your reconsideration request is denied, you will need to request a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ). You can do this online or by calling your local Social Security office. It is important to note that you must request a hearing within 60 days of receiving the reconsideration decision. During the hearing, the ALJ will review any additional evidence you can provide of your claim and question you or your legal representative. Also, medical and vocational experts may be called to testify regarding your claim of disability.
The ALJ hearing provides the best opportunity to prove your right to benefits. You could benefit from the help of an experienced disability lawyer during the hearing. According to statistics, chances of approval increase for those with legal representation.
Appeals Council & Federal Court
If the ALJ denies your claim, you still have some hope. You can first request a review of the ALJ’s ruling by the Social Security Appeals Council within 60 days of the ruling, to see if an error was made during the case. If they find one, they would send your claim back for the ALJ’s reconsideration or approve it directly. If denied by the Appeals Council, then your last option is to file a lawsuit against the SSA in your district federal court within 60 days. In this situation, a judge assigned to your case will decide if there was an error in denying benefits and whether the ALJ kept proper procedure during the hearing.
Getting Help with Your Social Security Disability Appeal
Choosing to appeal your denial of disability benefits, at least to the ALJ hearing level, has shown to be very beneficial. But, the disability appeals process can be long and complicated. That is why you need the help of an experienced disability lawyer.
The disability attorneys at Brock & Stout have over 27 years of experience helping clients with their denials for disability benefits. We work with each client to help them gather the evidence they need to prove their claim and assure that the SSA understands their need for benefits. Contact us for a free evaluation of your denial of benefits and let us see if we can help you appeal the decision.