If your application for Social Security disability benefits has been denied, it probably comes as no great surprise to you. You’ve likely been told that the majority of applications are denied, and that the process can be gruelling. This is true to an extent. Social Security requires hard medical data in order to award benefits to a petitioner. You do, however, have a chance to win your disability claim on appeal. But what is the Social Security disability appeal process, and what can you expect?
Request for Reconsideration
When you receive a denial letter, you will be informed concerning your right to appeal the decision. You will generally be given a reason why your claim was denied. You will need to contact your local field office which you can find on ssa.gov.
Disability Determination Services will decide on your appeal. You essentially ask them to fully review your claim for benefits. The individuals who will review your claim must not be the same ones who performed the initial review.
If your claim is again denied, you will receive a very similar notice to the one that you received during the first denial. It will provide you with instructions on how to proceed from there. If your claim is accepted, that’s it. You don’t have to worry about any of the other steps.
Administrative Law Judge Hearing
If your request for reconsideration is denied, you have 60 days to request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). Here, you will make your case before the court and argue why your petition was denied in error. You will present medical evidence and discuss how your medical condition limits your ability to perform your work duties. The ALJ will render a decision based on the quality of that evidence.
If the ALJ does not rule in your favor, you can then take your case to the appeals council. The appeals council has broad discretion when it comes to reviewing cases. It will dismiss your case without review in the event that it does not find one of the following:
- Procedural error that caused a decision to be rendered unfairly;
- Decision that was not supported by substantial evidence; or,
- Problematic policy or issue of procedure is raised in your case.
Federal Court Review
At this point, you have exhausted all your options at the state level. You can go to the federal district judge to file one final appeal. The judge will review your case for procedural errors that may have occurred during the appeals council or the ALJ hearing.
Federal judges rarely reverse decisions of the other courts, but often remand (or send the case back) to one of the previous levels if they spot a procedural error. In these cases, they can say that the courts did not consider certain pieces of evidence sufficiently or failed to allow testimony of a consulting physician.
A Disability Appeal Lawyer Can Increase Your Chances of Winning an Appeal
As far as the disability application process is concerned, the majority of claims are granted by the ALJ. By the time your case makes it to the appeals council, you’re looking for some procedural error the ALJ made.
Additionally, while a good number of appeals are granted at the federal level, it costs a great deal of money to appeal a case in that manner. In these instances, you’re better off simply refiling your claim and producing the evidence required by the court to approve your benefits.
Talk to a Springfield IL Disability Attorney
The disability appeal process can be both time-consuming and frustrating. But an attorney who is experienced in filing these claims can help with some of the headaches involved and ensure that your claim is complete. Talk to Donald J. Hanrahan today.