Social Security Reconsideration
If your claim for disability benefits is turned down, you can file an appeal with social security.
This first level of appeal is called a request for reconsideration, and, in the processing of it, your state disability determination services (DDS) agency (the same agency that evaluated your initial claim) will review your medical information and decide if the original disability examiner’s decision should be upheld. Not surprisingly, the majority of reconsideration appeals are unsuccessful—DDS does not typically overturn a disability examiner’s decision unless some obvious mistake has been made. Nationally, though statistics vary between states and from year to year, about 85% of all reconsideration appeals are denied.
It’s still smart to file a reconsideration appeal though, because it keeps your claim alive and moving through the disability determination process (if your first appeal fails you are entitled to a second appeal, a hearing before a federal disability judge). It’s true that most requests for reconsideration are denied; then again, some of them are approved. Here’s what you can do to improve your reconsideration appeal’s chances of approval:
1. If you have any new medical evidence, be sure to point this out when you submit your appeal. Be sure to include names and addresses of any new medical facilities from which you’ve received treatment, as well as the results of any recent tests that might help bolster your claim; i.e., MRIs, X-rays, CT scans, pulmonary functioning tests, mental exams, etc. Remember that filing the exact same claim with DDS is likely to yield the exact same results, and this is why you should nearly always file an appeal versus starting over with a new claim. Also, regarding the filing of a reconsideration appeal, or any appeal, if you have something helpful to add to the record you should take the opportunity to do so.
2. If you can get copies of your most recent medical records, submit them with your reconsideration application. Not only will this ensure that social security bases its decision on the most up-to-date information in your case, but it may help you receive a decision in your case sooner than you might otherwise. Many disability decisions are delayed simply because the disability examiner has trouble getting the treating physician or facility to comply with a request for medical records, because without relevant medical records the disability examiner is unable to make a decision in your case.
3. Be sure to file your reconsideration appeal as soon as you receive notice that your claim has been denied. It’s best to send your reconsideration appeal in to social security as soon as possible after receiving your notice of denial. Your appeal must be filed within 60 days of the date that social security informed you it turned down your claim (this date appears in the top-right corner of your notice of denial). You are allowed a 5-day grace period for mailing, but don’t procrastinate. Many reconsideration appeals are, in effect, turned away because they come in to the social security office past the 60-day deadline—even one day late, and you will have no choice but to start all over again with a new claim. Meaning months of wasted time that you can ill afford.
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