Have you been denied Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits?
Many people who are denied these benefits don't agree with the decision. The good news is that an applicant has the right to appeal his or her denied disability claim. The appeals process can be complicated and intimidating, but the Social Security Administration works with disability attorneys as well as applicants.
You have the right to appeal your denied Social Security disability claim. Your chances of being approved in the reconsideration stage or at a hearing are much higher if you have an experienced disability lawyer working on your case. If you are considering an appeal, it is absolutely essential that you have an experienced disability lawyer on your side.
Deadline to Appeal
You have 60 days from the date of denial to file an appeal for disability benefits. The SSA accounts for mailing time, but in some circumstances you may be able to prove that you got it later than normal. If you cannot meet this deadline, provide the SSA with a valid reason in writing and your deadline may be extended.
Those applicants who are filing an appeal first have to go through "reconsideration." A representative who has no familiarity with your case will consider all of the evidence and aspects of the case. If there are any new developments or pieces of evidence in your case, be sure to submit them. If your reconsideration is approved, then you will receive a letter in the mail saying so. If your reconsideration is denied, then you move onto the next stage of the appeals process, which is a hearing.
Applicants appealing a denied Social Security disability claim can request a hearing if reconsideration doesn't turn out the way they had hoped. Again, a person who knows nothing about your case will make the decision. That person in this case will be an administrative law judge (ALJ). You can expect to see them and the following people at your hearing:
- your attorney
- vocational experts (to testify about the person's work history)
- medical experts (to testify about the person's health or disability)
- other witnesses
The ALJ will hold the hearing within 75 miles of your home in most cases. Sometimes, videoconferencing can be done in place of a traditional hearing. You need to provide the judge with any new evidence or developments in your case before the trial starts. Once the judge makes a decision, it will be sent to the claimant (or applicant) in the mail.
Watch our video: What Can I Expect at a Disability Hearing?
Appeals Council Review
As the appeals process progresses, it becomes even more difficult. Most denied SSD claims don't go past the hearing level since the time and money needed to do so aren't worth the potential benefits. However, there are two more levels in the appeals process. The Appeals Council is a part of the Social Security Administration and consider a case if an appeal is filed past the hearing stage. They may deny requests for appeal if they agree with a prior decision, decide upon the matter themselves, or send it back to an ALJ for further review. No matter their decision, the Appeals Council will send you a notification in the mail.
The final step in the appeals process is to file a formal lawsuit in federal court. Claimants rarely reach this final step in the appeals process, but it is an option if you disagree with the decision. You will certainly need a disability attorney at this stage of the appeals process, but hiring one as early as possible will help save you the time, money, and stress that accompany a lawsuit.
Visit the Social Security Administration's website or call them at 1-800-772-1213 to learn more about filing and resolving an appeal.
The appeals process is long, complicated, and intimidating. If you have been denied Social Security benefits, call the Coye Law Firm today.