Denied at a SSA Disability HearingMany claimants who have had their Social Security Disability hearing have waited months to sit in a courtroom and tell their story to an objective judge who has the authority to cut through all the red tape and award them benefits. More than likely they are also tired and frustrated. They may also be facing a financial crisis, especially if they have not worked for several months.
Unfortunately, although the Social Security Disability hearing offers most claimants the best opportunity to win benefits, up to 60% of claimants will be denied at this level. So what if you are denied at the Social Security Disability hearing? What is your next step?
Appealing to the Appeals Council
If you have been denied at the Social Security Disability Hearing level you have three choices. You can appeal the denial decision within 60 days from the date of denial letter and request a hearing before the Appeals Council, you can return to work, or you can re-file your claim and start the process again.
Requesting a review with the Appeals Council
Unlike requesting a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, the Appeals Council has the right to refuse to hear your case. In fact, they have several options: 1) look at the request for the hearing and decide the decision was accurate and refuse to review your case; 2) review the case themselves; or 2) remand your case back to the Administrative Law Judge who initially reviewed the Social Security Disability case and made the denial decision.
If the Appeals Council decides they want to review your SSDI or SSI case they will re-evaluate the claim and send you a copy of the final decision.
Denied at the Appeals Council Level
If the Appeals Council declines to review your case or they deny your Social Security Disability claim you can have three options: 1) do nothing and return to work; 2) re-file your claim another time, beginning from the application level; 3) file a civil suit in a federal district court.
Unfortunately, if you are denied at the Appeals Council level this is the final appeals step in the SSA disability determination process. If you wish to pursue the claim you must move outside of the SSA disability evaluation system and into the court system.
Filing a Federal Court Case
The Social Security Administration has the responsibility for gathering the information they used for their disability decision and putting this file together for the court. There are very specific deadlines for requesting a court hearing and it is important to contact a disability lawyer for more information. You will be charged for filing a Social Security Disability claim in federal court.
Whether you are filing a review with the Appeals Council or a federal case in court, get ready to wait. The processing time to have the Appeals Council hear your case can be as high as 300 days.
Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits a Second Time
What if you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income a second time? What is the most important thing to do? If you have been denied once there could be many reasons, but the main reason claimants are denied (assuming they have met all of the nonmedical criteria) is that their medical records were insufficient to prove they were disabled.
How do you improve your chances of winning SSA disability benefits the second time you apply?
1. Find a primary care doctor who is supportive of your efforts to get disability. Although you do not need a doctors approval, it can be very helpful to have a doctor who is willing to work with you and provide information about your physical and mental limitations to work.
2. Get copies of your medical records and review them. Do you have to gather your own medical records? No, the SSA is responsible for gathering your records, but many claimants are very surprised after they have read their medical files to find that they are either illegible or they do not clearly state their
3. Answer the SSA quickly and do not let any denial deadlines to pass.
4. 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.
5. Be patient. The SSA is processing hundreds of thousands of claims each year. They are doing the best they can with limited resources.
Hiring a Disability Lawyer
If you would like a disability attorney to review your claim you can fill out the FREE evaluation form and a disability advocate will call you to review your claim or you can call our office at 1-800-641-3759 to talk to someone now.