Unfortunately, many people with disabilities are denied on their first attempt to apply for disability benefits. In fact, about 67 percent of all first-time applicants will be declined. While the declination letter can be upsetting, it is not the end of the road. Obviously, every case if considered and scrutinized by the Social Security Administration, but your case can be appealed and the decision can be reversed for a variety of reasons.
If you want to appeal your case, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will have to re-examine all aspects of your initial application. In order to have this happen, you must file an appeal within 60 days of the initial verdict. If you filed on your own the first time around, it may be time to consider the services of a local Social Security disability attorney to help you.
For those looking to appeal their cases, there are four different levels of appeal:
- Case reconsideration
- Administrative Law Judge Hearing
- Review by the Appeals Council
- Federal Court Review
Case Reconsideration – this step offers a fresh look at the application. An individual not associated with the initial application will review the submission. You are also able to submit new information at this time. If you have not already obtained representation by a disability attorney, it is recommended to do so before then next step in the process.
Administrative Law Judge Hearing – if the reconsideration still does not result in a satisfactory decision, the case can then be taken to an Administrative Law Judge Hearing. The judge assigned to the case is also not involved in the initial decision and will consider all evidence as well as any testimony given by medical experts and/or witnesses called. It is also recommended that the applicant attend this hearing.
Review by the Appeals Council – there is no guarantee the applicants request for an appeals court review will be accepted. However, if it is, a decision will be reached by an administrative law judge or by the council itself. If the council declines to review the case, the final step would be to take the case to federal court.
Federal Court Review – if you have decided to proceed on your own at this point, you do not want to take the next step without proper representation. This is a very complex step in the process and your final chance to win the case. Because of the technicalities and legalities involved, it would be very difficult to win the case without a social security disability lawyer representing you.