Appealing at the Social Security Reconsideration Step
I recently read on Gordon Gates blog (if you live in maine or new hampshire, he is listed on the "representatives" link under the blogroll link) that the reconsideration appeal step is being reinstated in the 10 test states in which it was, for a time, eliminated.
For those who are unaware of what "reconsideration is, the process in most of the country has always been as follows:
1. Disability application - this is where you file your initial claim, typically through a local social security office. These claims are sent to a a state agency where a disability examiner reviews the medical evidence, work history, and other factors to decide whether the outcome will be a disability approval or a disability denial.
2. Reconsideration appeal - this is the first appeal for individuals who have had their disability claims denied. Again, the appeal is filed with social security and then the claim is decided at a state DDS agency (disability determination services) by a disability examiner (though a different examiner than the first one).
3. Disability hearing - this is the second appeal in the system and is typically the step where claimants who have been initially denied will have their very best chance, statistically, of being awarded disability benefits. The hearing is conducted by a federal administrative law judge and the chances of winning disability benefits tend to go up substantially at this level for those who have representation. Which makes perfect sense, of course. This is the one level where you have the opportunity to actually appear before the decision-maker on your case and where you are allowed to appear with your attorney representative.
Judges will typically advise claimants who show up at their hearing without representation that A) they have the right to have representation and B) the hearing can be rescheduled to allow the claimant time to seek representation.
There are appeals that are available to a claimant if they are denied a disability hearing, such as the appeals council review and district court. But the goal for most claimants who have been initially denied is to get the case won at the hearing level, if not sooner.
In ten states, it has been easier to get to the hearing level because, in a protracted test, the first appeal, the reconsideration appeal, was eliminated. This meant that if a claim was denied (and about seventy percent are denied at the application level), then the claimant or the claimant and his/her attorney could immediately request a hearing instead of wasting time on a reconsideration. I say "wasting time" because, historically, only about 13-17 percent of reconsideration appeals have been approved. So, in most instances, reconsideration appeals typically serve to do one thing: chew up several months of valuable time while the financial and medical situations of disability claimants continue to deteriorate.
Which is why reconsideration has always been a hotly debated thing, mostly with regard to "why don't they just get rid of it". Well...they did in ten states. And soon, according to the commissioner of the social security administration, they'll be putting it back in again.
Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog
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The Next Steps to follow after Your Social Security Disability Claim Is Denied
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