Denied SSD Benefits Appeal Lawyer | SSD SSDI Appeals Lawyer | Social Security Appeals Process
Social Security Appeals Process
If you initial application for disability benefits is denied, do not despair! Only about 35 percent of initial applications for disability benefits are approved. There are many reasons why your application might be denied: you could make too much money or your disability might not be expected to last a full year. Regardless of the reason for an applicant's denial, many people have their applications approved on appeal. This list of Frequently Asked Questions about disability benefits can be quite informative when you are going through the application and appeals process.
The Social Security Administration has several layers of appeals that you can work to in order to have the decision reversed.This is where a lawyer specializing in disability law can help you most. Winning an appeal can be difficult, but an experienced social security attorney can help improve your chances of being approved on appeal.
Click here to read Tips on Getting Your Claim approved, so you can avoid the initial denial of benefits altogether.
Four levels of Appeal
1. Ask the SSA to Review Your Initial Determination
After you receive your denial in the mail, the very first step in the appeals process is simply to apply for reconsideration of your application through your local field office. If you wish to appeal, you must do so within sixty days of being notified that the SSA has denied your claim.
Your complete file is reviewed at this level of the appeals process, and the people at Disability Determination Services agency who review your application on appeal are different ones than those who first reviewed your application. At this stage of the appeals process, only about 5 percent of reconsideration claims are granted. A Social Security attorney can advise you on how to apply for a review of your initial determination.
2. Administrative Law Judge Hearing
If your reconsideration request is denied and you want to continue the appeals process, you have 60 days to ask for a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. The line to a appeal hearing is a long one: as of 2011, more than 728,000 Americans were awaiting appeal hearings for Social Security disability benefits, which represents a 5 percent jump over 2010. An administrative law judge works for the SSA's Hearings and Appeals office. Administrative law judges tend to grant 67 percent of the cases they hear and will notify you in writing of his or her decision.
These hearings are typically held within 75 miles of your home, which should help you be able to attend.
Appearing in person at these hearings puts you at an advantage, as it puts a face on your claim for the judge. However, it is important to be honest in your testimony and not exaggerate your condition. Your lawyer or appointment representative may also attend. Hiring an attorney who specializes in disability law and regularly handles appeals in your jurisdiction only puts you at a further advantage. The judge may ask you and any witnesses questions at the hearing, and your representative will also be given the opportunity to ask questions.
Ahead of the hearing, you will be given the opportunity to insert additional information, such as updated medical records, although it is ideal to send this information ahead of time rather than the day of the hearing.
3. Review of Your Case by the Appeals Council
If you disagree with the administrative law judge's decision, you may ask the Appeals Council to review your case. While the Appeals Council looks at every request for review it is sent, it only agrees to review your case if they find some flaw in the administrative law judges' decision. The Appeals Council can also randomly select your case for review. The Appeals Council can either decide to review your case itself or to send your case back down to an administrative law judge to look at it further. The Appeals Council typically only grants 2 to 3 percent of all cases they hear.
The Appeals Council is headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, and there are no offices outside of Virginia. However, you can also contact your local SSA office or local hearing office with questions about your Appeals Council review. The Appeals Council headquarters is located at:
Appeals Council, SSA/ODAR
5107 Leesburg Pike
Falls Church, VA 22041-3255
4. Federal lawsuit - Social Security Lawsuit Lawyer
After you have exhausted all the other levels of appeal available to you, you have the option of filing a lawsuit in a U.S. District Court. You must file this lawsuit within 60 days of the Appeals Council's denial. At this level, your case would be decided by federal judge. A federal judge has the option of awarding or denying you benefits or sending the case back to an administrative law judge for another hearing. Often, district court judges decide the SSA did not fully weigh the information provided by a patient's doctor.
Only about one percent of all disability applicants appeal their case to this level, as being involved in a lawsuit can be a very expensive and time-consuming process. Around 30 percent of the time district court judges reverse the decisions of administrative law judges.
Winning Your Appeal - SSDI Lawyer
If you win your claim for disability benefits on review or at the administrative hearing level, you should expect to begin receiving benefits in two to four weeks. If you are awarded benefits by the Appeals Council or as a result of a lawsuit, you can expect to wait one to three months to begin receiving benefits. However, this time frame varies per individual case.
The amount of your monthly Social Security Disability Insurance check will vary based on how much FICA taxes you have paid over the course of your working life. In 2010, the average check for an individual was $1,065.
If you submit your contact information on this website, an experienced Social Security Advocate will contact you within hours to help you begin the SSD SSDI Appeals process.
Continuing Disability Review
If you are approved for disability benefits, this does not mean you will be eligible for them forever. Many times, your eligibility for SSDI or SSI benefits will be reviewed at regular intervals, depending on your case and whether or not your condition is expected to improve over time.
Typically, reviews are conducted every one, three, five, or seven years. These Continuing Disability Reviews require a person to keep their medical records up to date, which means regularly visiting a doctor even after you are awarded benefits.