How to Appeal a Disability Decision

Have you been denied Social Security disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits recently? If so, your frustration and disappointment is understandable and common. According to the latest annual report on Social Security Disability benefits, about 70 percent of applicants are denied during their initial application. The appeal process can be lengthy and arduous, but it's worth the financial security in the absence of employment. here's everything you need to know about the appeal process for Social Security Disability benefits.

Social Security Disability Benefit Recipient

An Overview of Eligibility

Remember that SSDI and SSI aren't quite the same. In order to understand the basis upon which you were denied benefits, here is a quick overview of eligibility for disability benefits:

  • The Social Security Administration (SSA) must deem you totally disabled as per its own definition.
  • This disability can be mental or physical, although physical disabilities are easier to prove and are less often rejected.
  • You cannot perform your previous job due to your current disability.
  • You cannot perform any job due to the effects of your disability.
  • Your claim must be supported by independent professional medical opinions.
  • You must demonstrate financial difficulty, which often means living below the poverty line.

Even though most applicants do meet the eligibility requirements for Social Security disability benefits, they can be overlooked and therefore denied.

Step 1: Request For Reconsideration

If you've been denied by the SSA, you will receive a letter informing you of the decision. This can take place within a month to six months of submitting your application. Your letter will contain directions on how to appeal. It may also include the form you'll need to use, known as the "Request for Reconsideration" form.

If you'd rather fill the form out online, You can do so. Then, you can submit it or print it out. You have 60 days to submit your appeal. The appeal will be reviewed by a different SSA official.

Step 2: Administrative Law Judge Hearing

If your request for reconsideration is denied, the next step is requesting a hearing before an administrative Law Judge. Again, you must make this request within 60 days of your reconsideration denial notice.

An Administrative Law Judge is an attorney who works for the SSA. His main job is to conduct these hearings and make a decision about appeals.

You can bring the following to your hearing:

  • Any medical documents that support the extent of your disability.
  • Any witnesses who can testify that you cannot work.
  • Any documentation of financial hardship, such as tax records and rent receipts.
  • A legal representative.

About 50 percent of cases reviewed by an ALJ are overturned. You may have to wait several months for your hearing.

Step 3: Appeal To The Council

If the ALJ denies your claim too, you can request that your case be reviewed by a council of Administrative Law Judges. In this step, you cannot introduce any new information to your case. You may only be able to note if there were any significant changes to your disability status from the time when you first appealed.

The ALJ council's job is to check if the initial ALJ conducted your hearing fairly. They examine whether all of your documentation was considered and whether your representative was allowed to conduct a cross examination.

The process of a council review can take more than a year from the time you request it.

Step 4: Federal Court Lawsuit

Although most cases don't get to this level of the appeal process, you can file a lawsuit against the Social Security Administration with the Federal Court. Since the SSA is governed by federal law, this court can make the ultimate decision about your appeal.

This process can get expensive and takes up to several years to conclude.

Social Security Disability Appeal Hearing

Benefits of Legal Representation

At any point during the appeal, you can seek legal representation for your Social Security disability case. Your lawyer can specialize in disability law, but it is not a legal requirement.

A lawyer is most beneficial at the ALJ hearing stage. this is where you and your witnesses can advocate for your needs as a disabled individual. Since the appeal is face-to-face and direct, your lawyer can present the case in a more compelling way.

If you've been denied your rightful claims, start your appeal process by filling out the "Request For Consideration" form today.