When you file for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), your Augusta disability lawyers will explain to you that there is a chance that the claim will be denied. Having your claim denied, however, is not the end of your case. The Social Security Administration (SSA) allows you to file an appeal. The appeal process is a four-step process that must be followed in an exact order. Your attorney will handle everything you need during the appeal.
Step 1 – Requesting Your Case Be Reconsidered
Some states will allow you to request a reconsideration of your case. If they do, this will be the first step in your appeals process. If your state does not allow a request for reconsideration, you will need to go to step two. Augusta disability attorneys will advise you on what steps you will have to take for your appeal.
Requesting a Reconsideration for a New Application
If your initial claim is denied, the denial letter will contain important information about how you can appeal the decision. If you are required to submit a request for reconsideration, you will have a limited amount of time to make this request. You will need to work with your attorney to make sure the deadline is met. When you submit a request for reconsideration of benefits, it will be sent to the Continuing Disability Review (CDR) department at the SSA. Here, a medical professional will reevaluate the entire case. This medical professional works independently of anyone who previously worked on your case and denied the claim. This ensures that the information is looked at without bias. When the case is reviewed, a new determination will be made. On average, about 10 percent of cases are granted at this point and the case does not need to go any farther in the system. However, if the case is again denied, you will be sent a letter of denial and a period of time that you can appeal this denial to an Administrative Law Judge.
Appeal for Denial of Continuing Benefits
Once you have been approved for benefits, your case will receive periodic reviews. On occasion, the review process may determine that your condition has improved enough to return to work. If this happens, you have the ability to appeal this decision. Benefits can also be denied if you fail to cooperate with the review of your case. If the SSA requests any medical information about you or requests that you submit to an exam, it is always in your best interest to comply. When you appeal a discontinuance of benefits, your case will be submitted to an independent case manager for review, similar to the initial benefits process. If your claim is denied again, you will have to take your case to the next step in the process.
Step 2 – Administrative Law Judge
If your case has been denied during the first step, or if your state does not require the Request for Reconsideration, you will need to take your case before an Administrative Judge. In most cases, you have 60 days from the date of your denial to schedule an Administrative Hearing. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is an attorney who works for the SSA to determine benefit eligibility. An ALJ can also hear cases that are not related to disability claims. When you appear before the ALJ, you will tell them about your disability and how it has impacted your life. Your Augusta disability attorneys will have told you everything that the judge will ask so that you are prepared. Over 67 percent of the cases that go before an Administrative Law Judge is overturned and approved. However, if your claim is denied, you will have the right to appeal their decision in step three.
Step 3 – Appeals Council
If your case has been denied in the previous two steps, the next action you must take is to go before an Appeals Council. The Council will review your case for administrative errors only. This means that they are not interested in how the disability has affected your life, only if the ALJ based their decision legally. The Appeals Council will take significant time reviewing all aspects of the case to determine if it was handled fairly. Only about one percent of all cases that reach this point have the decision overturned. The Appeals Council is just a mandatory step to take before proceeding to the final step.
Step 4 – Federal Court Review
The final step that can be taken when your case has been denied is an appearance in Federal Court. Your case can be submitted to the court for review. This type of case is held before a federal judge without a jury. The judge will review all aspects of the case to determine if the SSA treated the case fairly and gave enough weight to the evidence that was presented to them for review. It should be noted that very few cases are taken to step four. Suing the Social Security Administration is a very expensive and time-consuming effort. While there is a chance that the benefits will be granted, the chance is slim and many attorneys will not take a case this far in the appeals process. It could take several years for the appeals process to even reach the federal level, and several more to receive a decision.
Speak with Augusta Disability Lawyers About Your Case Today
If you are making an initial claim, or if you have been denied Social Security Disability benefits, you are encouraged to speak with one of the disability lawyers at Wilkinson & Magruder LLP. They have a dedicated staff that can help you through the entire disability application process. Wilkinson & Magruder work on a contingency basis. This means there is never any money upfront for their services. This practice allows everyone, regardless of current ability to pay, have access to quality legal representation. Schedule a free consultation with Augusta disability lawyers by calling 706-737-0771 to discuss your Social Security disability claim.