If you seek Social Security Disability benefits, it is very likely that you will have to appeal a decision about your Social Security Disability claim at least once. The Social Security Administration says more than half of initial claims are initially denied and that only slightly more than one quarter of applicants receives benefits after filing their initial application.
The issue with entering the SSD appeals process is that you are likely to face a lengthy delay in action on your case. The Washington Post reported in October 2014 that the backlog of SSD appeals was nearing 1 million cases.
If you can submit a complete and accurate SSD benefits application at the start of your claims process, you will be much more likely to receive approval without having to file an appeal. But if your initial allocation for benefits is denied, you should appeal. Becker Law Office can help you prepare your initial SSD application or assist you with an appeal, just as it has helped hundreds of other SSD applicants.
Your Right to Appeal a Social Security Disability Decision
The Social Security Administration (SSA) expects that those who are denied disability benefits will appeal the decision. If you receive a “Notice of Disapproved Claim,” you will have 60 days to request a new review of your claim.
Overall, there are four levels of appeal available to a disability benefits applicant. The appeals must be completed in this order:
- Reconsideration. This is a review of your file by a claims examiner who was not involved in the initial review. You may add information to your application for a reconsideration. In some cases the SSA may ask you for more information.
- Hearing. If the reconsideration of your claim results in a denial, you may request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). At this hearing, you may present witnesses, such as medical experts or vocational counselors who have examined you. The SSA may present its own witnesses, and the ALJ may question you and your witnesses. In certain situations, a hearing may be held as a video conference rather than in person. This could be set up faster and may be held closer to your home than a face-to-face hearing.
- Appeals Council Review. If the Administrative Law Judge rules against you, you have the right to a review by the Social Security Administration’s Appeals Council. The Appeals Council can deny your request for a review, conduct a review (without further input from you) and render a decision, or send your case back to the ALJ for a new review and decision on your case.
- Federal Court Case. After an Appeals Council decision and the action it orders, if any, you may pursue your claim further if you are still dissatisfied by filing a lawsuit against the Social Security Administration. This is a civil action filed in the district court of the United States for the judicial district in which you reside or where you have your principal place of business. Once your case goes to court, you will be allowed to present evidence and testimony before a federal district court judge. The SSA will be able to present its evidence against your claim as well.
The Social Security Administration says on its website: “You should be aware that the hearing process is at times a rather lengthy one, so it is best to help us process your request as quickly as we can.” In its report about the backlog of cases before Administrative Law Judges, the Washington Post calls the hearing process “slow work, made slower by a pileup of outdated rules and oddball procedures.”
If your case reaches the hearing level on appeal, the SSA will have its experts at hand to defend its previous decision not to award you benefits. You should have an experienced representative to help make your case.
An SSD benefits attorney from Becker Law Office can make sure your claim package is complete and accurate and filed on time if you must appeal a decision by the Social Security Administration. Because we have handled hundreds of SSD claims, we know the common mistakes that can slow the appeals process and how to avoid them in your case.
If your case goes to court to obtain the benefits settlement that is right for you, we’ll call upon our litigation partners, the trial attorneys at Bubalo Law PLC to fight for your benefits.
Contact Our SSD Benefits Attorneys Today
If your application for Social Security Disability benefits has been denied, you should exercise your right to appeal the decision. It is important to file an appeal request on time or you could lose your opportunity to obtain benefits. Becker Law Office’s SSD benefits attorneys can ensure your appeal has the additional information necessary to obtain a positive outcome, and can ensure that you are strongly represented at every step of the appeals process.
If you are a disabled worker in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, or Tennessee whose SSD benefits have been denied, contact a Becker Law Office SSD lawyer to discuss an appeal of your case in a free initial consultation today.