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Applied & Denied: The Social Security Disability Appeal Process
Being denied Social Security Disability benefits after waiting weeks, or even months, for an answer can be very distressing. The Social Security Administration has many cases to review, and they evaluate each case carefully. However, no system is perfect, and mistakes do happen. Even if you were initially denied Social Security Disability benefits, this doesn’t always mean the decision was the right one.
This is where you make a disability appeal. The case will then go through one of four levels of appeal to determine if the decision made to deny your benefits should be overturned. Many times, it’s helpful to consult a lawyer for this process, if you haven’t consulted one for your case already.
Let’s look at the levels of appeal.
Levels of Disability Appeal
In order to make a disability appeal, you must first file your appeal either online or by letter to the Social Security Administration (SSA), preferably with documents to provide evidence in favor of your appeal. When the SSA answers your appeal, they will let you know how you should appeal the decision.
Reconsideration: This generally does not require you to be present, and involves a new person reviewing your case that had no involvement in the decision of your initial case. It is a review by a second, unbiased individual.
Hearing: If you have received reconsideration on your disability appeal, and the reconsideration does not approve your claim, you may request a hearing. Following a denial at the initial or reconsideration level a person has only 60 days to file an appeal. You will need to be present for this, and may need additional documents or evidence in favor of your appeal. You will be questioned, as well as any witnesses if you have any. It is recommended to have legal representation.
Appeals Council: When the hearing does not accept your appeal, you may ask the Appeals Council to review your case. They may choose not to if they agree with the hearing decision. The Appeals Council may deny the case, review it and make a decision, or pass it on to an administrative law judge for review.
Federal Court: If all other levels of the appeals process deny your disability appeal, and you still feel you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you may file a lawsuit.
It’s important to know that only a licensed attorney can file an appeal in Federal District Court and that At Jenkins Block at each level you are being represented by licensed attorneys. At your hearing you will be represented by a licensed attorney with years of experience.
Where Can I Find An Attorney Experienced in Disability Benefits?
When choosing an attorney to guide you through the process of a disability appeal for Social Security Disability benefits, it’s important to hire an individual experienced with the program and its requirements. Consulting an individual who has insight on disability benefits will prove to be extremely valuable in the long run, especially when questions arise or uncertainty on how to proceed. If your case has denied and you feel it should have been accepted, getting a lawyer involved in your case can quickly help and guide you on where to go next.
Jenkins Block & Associates has 40+ years of experience in successful SSD/SSI cases, in addition to being a member of The National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives. Call us at 1-800-243-2439 to begin the process of appealing your disability benefits!