Claimants denied Social Security Disability benefits at the Administrative Hearing level have already been denied once or twice at the application level and the reconsideration level (unless this level was omitted). At this point most claimants are very discouraged and maybe even angry.
If this sounds like how you feel, you are not alone. It is estimated that up to 60% of Social Security Disability claimants who go to a Social Security Disability hearing, and are not represented by a Social Security Disability lawyer, will have their Social Security Insurance Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits denied.
So what should you do next? Should you file a new Social Security Disability application and begin the fight all over again or should you attempt to file another appeal with the Appeals Council in the last step of the Social Security Disability appeals process? Let’s talk about your options.
Appealing to the Appeals Council
If you decide you would like to appeal the Administrative Hearing Decision to the Administrative Appeals Judge you will have 60 days from the date you receive the notice of denial to ask for any type of appeal. The Social Security Administration will assume you have received the denial notice within 5 days from the date they have mailed it, unless you can prove otherwise.
The Appeals Council has the right to refuse to review your case. They do look at all requests for reviews, but if they decide the hearing decision was accurate, they may deny the request for review. If the Appeals Council decides to review your case they can do one of two things 1) they may review the case themselves or 2) send your case back to the Administrative Law Judge who initially reviewed the Social Security Disability case and made the denial decision. The Appeals Council, if they decide to review your Social Security Disability case, may evaluate all of the issues of your case and will send you a copy of their final decision.
What happens if the Appeals Council denies your claim or they refuse to review your Social Security Disability claim? Filing a civil suit in the federal district court is the last step to challenge the federal government’s denial of your Social Security Disability claim. If you decide to file a claim to evaluate the judicial review of the Social Security Administration’s denial decision the Social Security Administration will be responsible for putting together the record for the SSD claim for the court. The Social Security Administration will provide all the documents and evidence they reviewed to make their decision. Claimants will be charged for filing a case in federal court. If you choose to file an appeal with the Appeals Council, get ready to wait. According to the Social Security Administration’s statistics their average processing time for Appeals Council cases can be up to 260 days.
Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits a Second Time
If you have been denied Social Security Disability benefits at the Administrative Hearing level you may decide to simply re-file and start the process a second time. This is not ideal, but many Social Security Disability lawyers will tell you it is your best chance for receiving Social Security Disability benefits. How do you improve your chances for approval a second time?
- Get consistent medical care and find a physician who will support your Social Security disability case. Ideally, your physician will provide RFC or residual functional capacity forms which specifically outline your physical or mental limitations.
- Get copies of your medical records, including records from recent appointments and provide these medical records to the Social Security Administration when you reapply for SSDI or SSI benefits.
- Answer all Social Security Administration letters and calls as quickly as possible and attend all required medical exams. Do not let deadlines pass. Failure to appeal either the application denial or reconsideration denial may force you to start the process again.
- Contact a Social Security Disability lawyer for help. Social Security Disability attorneys help hundreds of claimants a year and understand the Social Security Disability process. SSDI and SSI lawyers understand how to prove you are unable to perform any type of job.
- Be patient. Kind and courteous. Claimants who are easy to work with have a better chance of getting the help they need.