Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Next Steps to follow after Your Social Security Disability Claim Is Denied

A posting on the professional patient website discussed steps to follow after a social security disability or SSI disability claim has been denied (by either a disability examiner or disability judge). I found a few of the points very interesting for two reasons: they represented good advice, and I've offered the same information myself numerous times. So, let me sum them up.

Point 1 - If you get denied for disability, your first thought should be this: appeal. Appeals are, by and far, a much better option than doing what so many claimants mistakenly do, which is to file a new disability application and start over from scratch. As a disability examiner, I saw this more times than I could count. A claimant would get denied and would file a new disability application. The question I always had to ask was, "why did they think the second disability application would be treated any differently than the first". In almost all instances, it is treated exactly the same way, i.e. it is denied again. A claimant who has been denied should appeal.

And, ultimately, the goal of going through the appeals process is simply to get your case before an adminsitrative law judge. Yes, a percentage of cases are won at the first appeal step (the social security request for reconsideration); however, this is an exceedingly small percentage. This is why I have always told claimants the following - file your request for reconsideration and if you get approved on the recon, fantastic. But pretty much expect to be denied at this level. After being denied on the recon, though, you can request a disability hearing, where, if you do what's necessary to prepare for your disability hearing, you can expect a favorable chance of winning your claim.

Point 2 - Move along quickly. Yes, its not enough to file a social security disability appeal after your case has been denied. You need to do it fast. Why? Because, if you're like most claimants, your finances by this time are in very bad shape. Social security gives you 60 days to file a disability appeal. But why wait this long? Get it done immediately. And by immediately, I mean within several days of getting your disability notice of appeal. If you have an attorney, call their office as soon as you receive your denial notice and have them file your appeal for you. Tip: Sometimes your attorney's office may feel pretty backed up so they may decide to "get to your appeal" when its convenient for them. Guess what? Whether they're "backed up" or not is of no importance to you. INSIST that your appeal request be sent out immediately and, furthermore, insist that you are sent a copy of the appeal paperwork so you can verify that the appeal has been done. As I said before, the process for disability takes a long time. But why let it take any longer than it has to, right?

Point 3 - If you don't have representation once you have been denied, seriously consider getting it. Cases with representation win at a higher rate because, at a hearing, they are better prepared. No ifs ands or buts. But should you get just any representative? No. Your representative can be a disability lawyer or a non-attorney; however, the person you choose should have a fair amount of experience in dealing with the system. For example, would you want to be represented at a hearing by an attorney who primarily handles wills and estates, or DUIs, and only does three or four social security disability and SSI disability cases per year? Of course not. You want someone who actually knows how the federal disability system works. You also want someone who is familiar with the hearing office and the judges where your case will be heard. And a rep who only does 3-4 disability cases per year, on the side, will not have the expertise that you should demand in your representative.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

Other Posts

Steps for Filing a Request for a Social Security Disability Hearing (and tips)
I was denied the second time for Social Security Disability
If your disability reconsideration is denied
Reconsideration Appeal - what makes it different from the Disability Application
How can a disability lawyer help you win a Social Security Disability or SSI case?
Social Security Disability, Medical Records and a Disability Attorney

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