Sunday, May 14, 2006

Appeals for Social Security Disability - Disability Appeals Process

Most individuals who decide to finally file a claim for social security disability or SSI benefits (I say finally because many claimants think about filing for benefits but delay the decision to file for quite some time) know very little about how the system works. In fact, many individuals who work in social security field and district offices know relatively very little about how the disability system works (this is because the social security office takes the disability application, but does not process it --- this is handled by a disability examiner in a state-level agency whose function is to render medical decisions on disability cases).

Naturally, then, a person who is filing for disability benefits may be partially or completely unaware of their appeal rights and the social security disability appeals process.

In essence, this is how the disability appeals process works: Disability applicants whose claims are denied at the initial application level have to right to request an appeal within sixty days of the date of their denial. This appeal is essentially a review or reconsideration of the decision that was made on the initial application.

Typically, this review results in the same decision; that is, another denial. Disability claimants who are denied on this review are entitled to request a second appeal within sixty days of the date of this denial and this appeal is known as a request for hearing before an administrative law judge. The chances of winning benefits rise substantially at this appeal (even more so for claimants with representation), which is good news for claimants.

Unfortunately, the time required to get to a hearing can be extraordinarily long (from the time a hearing has been requested until the time a hearing date is set can take as long as two years). And, of course, this does not take into consideration the length of time that the first appeal step may require (the first appeal can take as little as a few weeks or as long as several months). Obviously, appeals for social security disability and SSI claims can be very drawn out and taxing (both mentally and financially).

Despite these realities, however, the appeals process will, typically, yield better opportunities for approvals to claimants who have been initially denied (versus filing a brand new ssd or ssi claim and starting over from scratch).

Important things to remember about the Social Security Disability and SSI appeals process:

1. If you are requesting an appeal, do it quickly to keep your case moving through the system as fast as possible.

2. If you have had additional medical treatment or have been seen by new medical treatment sources, be sure to report this information when you submit your appeal paperwork.

3. If the appeal you are requesting is for a disability hearing, seriously consider getting representation so your case may be adequately and properly prepared prior to your hearing date.

4. After submitting your appeal paperwork (if you did not file electronically), make a follow up call to the social security office to make sure they received it.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

Other Posts

How much can I earn and still receive Disability benefits ?
File for disability

Disability status

Disability back pain


Blogger Gretchen said...

I lost my case at the ALJ hearing. I have filed an appeal and have a new attorney (whom has allegedly only taken about 10 appeals cases in their career). I feel so inadequate knowing I can't work and a judge says I can fold boxes 40 miles away from my home. I am a nurse with 25 years experience. I wish I knew what to do to help my case. If the first didn't work how can an appeal?

5:58 PM  
Blogger Disability Blogger said...

Unfortunately, your disability case story is not an uncommon one. Many individuals such as yourself are denied for Social Security disability benefits.

Social Security disability is a total disability program therefore you have to be unable to do any kind of work at a substantial work activity level to receive disability benefits.

Additionally, I am guessing that you are probably an individual in your forties or early fifties and obviously educated, and these facts are probably affecting your ability to be approved for Social Security disability. I am guessing that the administrative law judge stated that you could at least do some type of light work.

I would suggest to you that you file a new initial disability claim immediately. Social Security only allows new disability claims at this appeal level, and I feel it is because so many Appeals Council review requests are either dismissed without review or denied.

That is not to say that some are not approved or sent back to the original administrative law judge for review because some are.

If you truly feel that you are unable to work, file your new initial disability claim and follow it through to another administrative law judge hearing if you have to. Persistence often pays off with Social Security disability, thought the Social Security disability process is not an easy process. Just remember, many individuals who file for Social Security disability find themselves in your situation, but those who persevere will most likely win their disability benefits at some point.

4:43 AM  

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