Your initial social security disability application goes through something of a mechanical process. Many initial denials occur because you filled out the paper work incorrectly or didn't send in enough information. Don't let that initial denial stop you. There are four levels of appeals that can help you win the benefits you need.
Level 1: Request for Reconsideration
You should file this request as soon as you receive an initial denial. This request gives you the chance to go in to your local Social Security office and present additional information or clarify some points.
Unfortunately, the Request also has a high denial rate. But you still have the ability to appeal further. Some states no longer do the Request stage. In those places, you go straight to Level 2.
Level 2: ALJ Hearing
Once again, request a hearing as soon as you possibly can. You have to do it in writing, but some states may have an online form you can use. The ALJ hearing allows you to bring your case, in person, to an administrative law judge.
This hearing works much like any court hearing where you're allowed to bring in witnesses or experts to make testimonies on your behalf. Your case will also receive a review from someone outside of your local social security office.
The denial rate here isn't as high as the reconsideration rate, so you have a far better chance of a favorable outcome. If you're denied again, you can move on to Level 3.
Level 3: Social Security Appeals Council
You have to send a request for review to the Appeals Council in writing. The Council will do nothing, give you a favorable decision, or remand your case back to Level 2 where you will have to repeat the process.
At this level, the odds of a favorable decision are low, but if it's remanded to the ALJ, you still have another chance. If you're denied here, you have another chance.
Level 4: Federal Court
Many cases never make it as far as the federal court. You have to file a civil suit against the SSA and make your claim. This process isn't the same as the previous levels as it's an actual lawsuit with all that entails.
Much like the previous level, the federal judge can approve, deny, or remand. If they remand your case back to the ALJ, you may have a better chance, as the ALJ will think twice about going against a federal ruling.
Seek the Help of an Attorney
For each of these levels, you will have to file the proper paperwork and do it all in a timely fashion. While it's possible to do it yourself, you should definitely have a lawyer assist you.
A social security disability attorney will know,
- What you need to file,
- When you need to file it
- Who to send the paperwork to
They can also advise you on the best way to move forward with each level. Also, they can speak on your behalf at hearings. Remember that denials are common, but the longer you hang on, the better your chances of receiving the benefits you deserve.
For more information, contact Liddy Sarah J Attorney At Law or a similar firm.