Social Security Disability Appeal Process
Several claimants who apply for Social Security disability benefits will be initially denied. According to experts, an individual has better chances of getting approved if he or she appeals the case. Individuals whose application got denied the first time would have the best chance of winning if they present their cases at a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. So it is important to understand the Social Security Disability appeal process.
If your Social Security disability application has been denied, you should be able to appeal the initial denial in order for you to win your claim. You need to follow the instructions given to you in your notice of denial sent by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Here are the steps involved in the Social Security disability appeal process:
File a Request for Reconsideration
You may file a request for reconsideration if your initial claim had been denied or if your benefits were terminated. There are, however, some states that skip this step and proceed to the hearing phase.
When you file for reconsideration request, you are asking the SSA to review your claim. The review will be performed by an examiner and a medical consultant who did not take part in the first decision. If your claim is denied after reconsideration, you will be given a notice of denial detailing an explanation about why you were denied. If you want to continue with the appeal process, you may request for a hearing.
Request for Hearing
If you want to pursue your appeal, you will need to request for a hearing to be facilitated by an administrative law judge (ALJ) within 60 days after you received your notice of denial.
Generally, the ALJs are lawyers who work under the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR), which is a division of SSA. You may be ask to provide more documents and clarify some information to substantiate your claim. The ALJ will provide you with details about the place and time of the hearing. In some cases, the SSA holds the hearing via video conference to make it more convenient for the claimant.
After the hearing, the ALJ will decide based on the information about your case. A letter containing a copy of the judge’s decision will be sent to you.
Review by Appeals Council
If you lose your case at the hearing, you may submit a request to the Social Security’s Appeals Council to review your claim. If the Appeals Council decides to review your case, it may decide on your case or forward it to an ALJ for further review. However, the council may also deny your claim and stand by the hearing decision. It may also decide not to review your case.
Federal Court Review
If your claim was denied by the Appeals Council or if the council decides not to review your case, the final step in the Social Security disability appeals process is to file a lawsuit in a federal district court. In this case, you may need to hire a Social Security disability lawyer.