If your application for disability benefits is denied, don’t lose hope. Appeal it. Learn how to start a disability appeal.
Your application for Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits was denied by Social Security Administration examiners who have a reputation for rejecting more claims than they accept. In fact, according to the Social Security Disability Resource Center), 70% of California applicants are denied.
Except in certain parts of Los Angeles, California applicants that want to appeal have four options available to them. To learn more about how to start a disability appeal, contact a Social Security disability attorney at Oren & Oren today.
1. Filing a Request for Reconsideration
The first thing to do if you want to appeal a denial of your claim is to complete and file a “Request for Reconsideration” within 2 months of receiving the denial. By doing this, you’re asking a medical consultant and a disability examiner who were not a part of the original denial to review your application. This review results in nearly the same outcome with most (88 percent, according to SSDRC) reconsideration requests denied.
If your reconsideration request is denied, you can take the next step to appeal to the next level: a hearing before an administrative law judge.
2. Requesting a Hearing Before an Administrative Law Judge
To request a hearing before an administrative law judge, you will need to file paperwork within 60 days of being denied. This paperwork and what you argue at your hearing are best handled by a disability appeal attorney. This is because administrative law judges are also attorneys who work for the SSA.
Be warned that you might have to wait a long time for your hearing. According to SSDRC, this could be anywhere between 6 to 24 months. This is due to the large volume of cases in the system. This is another good reason for hiring a disability appeal attorney. An attorney can take advantage of this time by preparing as solid a case for you as possible.
Once you receive a hearing date, the administrative law judge will review your medical records and work history. Your chance of winning your appeal is greater before an administrative law judge with approximately half of all denied claims overturned.
However, if the administrative law judge upholds the original denial of your claim, what can you do? Go to the next level of appeal: the Appeals Council.
3. Requesting the Appeals Council to Review Your Case
The Appeals Council reviews administrative law judge decisions that it randomly picks. You can increase your chances for the Appeals Court to grant your request for review by filing within the given time period and arguing that the administrative law judge’s decision was made in error.
Chances are that, even if you are granted Appeals Council review, the administrative law judge’s decision will be sustained. In fact, 97% of all Appeals Council review decisions agree with the administrative law judge’s. This is probably why most applicants that are denied benefits stop their appeals at the administrative law judge hearing level or file new claims for disability benefits. Appeals Council review, however, is a way to show that you have used up all of your appeal options before pursuing the final one: review by a federal court.
4. Filing a Lawsuit With the Federal Court
Your last resort for a disability appeal is to sue the SSA in federal court. If you haven’t already, you should hire an attorney to ease you through this process as you file suit and have your case heard by a federal judge.
While a federal judge will not typically reverse a prior denial, she or he could send the case back to the Social Security Administration to decide again. In fact, half of all cases that get to this level of review are sent back to the SSA.
What Should You Do If You Have a Denied Claim?
If your claim for disability benefits has been denied, don’t lose heart. There are options available to you from a request for reconsideration to appeals hearings before an administrative law judge, the Appeals Council, and federal court. You’ve already taken the first step by educating yourself on your rights to appeal. Now, it’s your turn to decide whether to appeal your denial. But don’t go it alone. Your chances of winning your claim are better if you have a disability attorney at your side.