Appeals, Disability, and Social Security
There are actually several levels that comprise the appeal system for individuals who have been denied on a social security disability or SSI disability claim. Those levels are 1. the disability hearing before an administrative law judge, 2. the appeals council, which reviews denials made by disability judges, and 3. federal district court (for individuals who have been denied by a disability judge and have also been denied by the appeals council.
What are the most important things to keep in mind regarding disability appeals? Here's a short list that applies to all social security disability appeals and SSI appeals, regardless of the the level your claim is at.
1. All disability appeals must be received by the social security administration within sixty-five days of the date of your last denial. This does not mean that appeals must be submitted within sixty-five days, but, rather, that the social security administration must actually receive an appeal by the sixty-fifth day. If you receive a denial notice from the social security administration, you will notice that sixty days are given to submit appeals. However, claimants are also allowed an additional five days for mail time, giving all denied claimants a total of 65 days to submit their appeals.
2. When submitting appeals for disability, you should be sure to clearly indicate on the appeal forms your most recent medical treatment, including the names of the doctors and hospitals where you have been treated as well as the dates of treatment. By doing this, you can help to ensure that your SSD or SSI disability claim will be reviewed properly. Without doing this, the disability examiner or disability judge reviewing your claim may be unaware of medical treatment you've received and, as a consequence, those medical records may not be gathered or reviewed.
3. If you have a disability attorney assisting you on your case, allow this individual to submit the necessary appeals for your social security disability or SSI case. To faciliate this, you should contact your attorney whenever you receive a notice of denial from social security. And, for that matter, it would be best to contact your disability attorney whenever you receive correspondence from SSA. Why should you do this? For this reason: although the social security administration is required to send copies of all letters and notices to your disability lawyer, this doesn't always happen. So, whenever you receive correspondence regarding your case, you should contact your lawyer just in case they don't receive their copy of what SSA has sent you.
4. Disability appeals can take a very long time to process. In the case of reconsiderations (reconsiderations are the second step in the federal appeals system), it may take one to four months to receive a decision or, in some cases, longer than half a year. In the case of disability hearings, it can take much longer. Disability hearings can take 1-2 years to get scheduled and after a hearing has been held, it can take several months to receive a decision.
5. Disability appeals have different rates of approval depending on the level of the social security disability and SSI appeals system that your claim is currently at. Reconsiderations have a very high rate of denial (on average, about 85%), while disability hearings are won by at least half of all disability claimants.
6. If you are scheduled for a disability hearing before an administrative law judge, consider finding representation if you haven't already. Having a disability advocate or lawyer can significantly improve your chances of winning benefits at the hearing level.
Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog
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