Social Security Disability Appeals Process
If your Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) application has been denied, then there are steps you can take to appeal the decision. The first step that most people in this position take is filing for a reconsideration.
What is Reconsideration?
This is the initial step in the appeals process. It applies to both new and continuing claims of disability. The denial you received will contain all the information about the appeals process. You will need to contact your local Social Security Office who will set up an appointment for re-examination by independent examiners. They will make the determination of whether you qualify, although less than 10% of decisions are reversed at this stage.
If that is not successful, then you will want to take the next step in the appeals process. However, before you begin you will want to have the services of a Social Security attorney skilled in the appeals process for Social Security disability or SSI. They can be of great benefit in helping you in getting a decision in your favor.
The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing is the next step when you appeal the reconsideration. This must be filed in 60 days from the rejection. The ALJ holds hearings for those who have been denied so that their cases may be heard. The good news for those who file for a hearing win roughly 67% of the time which means that two out of three people who appeal will be granted disability payments at this stage.
If you are one of the 33% who has their appeal denied, you can request an Appeals Council review. They have the power to look over your case and decide whether to uphold or reverse the denial. The odds are not good at this stage when it comes to reversals. Plus, in many cases the Appeals Council will not even take up your case. However, there are exceptions that include the following.
In essence, the Appeals Council must find something wrong in the AJL review before taking up the case. However, your chances of winning are still very low. If you lose, this leads to the final step.
The last step in the process, you will definitely need to have an experienced lawyer by your side. Here, the federal judges themselves hear and decide on the case. The chances for reversal are better at this stage with one out of three being reversed. This is because while the judges are supposed to look only for legal errors, they will also take factual questions into account as well. Common overturns include adding more weight to the opinion of the doctor, not taking into account the pain and suffering of the patient, and the doctors not going far enough in their evaluation.