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Jason Kennedy

How Do Social Security Appeals and Disability Appeals Work?

Need information on Social Security appeals and the disability appeals process? If so you have come to the right place. If a person is denied disability benefits, it is fortunately not the end for them. Applicants that have been denied still have the right to appeal. Appealing the decision is a slightly complicated process, but many who do appeal do eventually obtain some disability benefits from the Department.

The Social Security Appeal process

The first step of this process is submitting a written reconsideration request. This must be done within 60 days of the initial denial of benefits by the Social Security Administration (SSA). What reconsideration entails is a completely different employee of the SSA examining your request for benefits. The second examiner could reach completely different conclusions. In fact, one in five reconsiderations by the Administration are approved.

However, first, the SSA will send the filer of the complaint new paperwork to fill out. When filling out this paperwork, the applicant should include the reasons why he or she deserves benefits as well as why the reasoning used to previously reject the application was incorrect.

Once this is mailed back to the SSA, the applicant must wait for a response. This could include an overturning of the previous decision or another denial. If it is denied, the appeal can still be continued. Further appeals may include a hearing over the matter in front of a federal judge, a review by the SSA’s Appeals Council or even a federal lawsuit.

A citizen has the right to represent his or herself during the appeals process. Still, it may be wiser to hire a lawyer with a background in dealing with the disability appeals process.

In most cases, however, a reconsideration request will simply be approved or denied outright. This approval or denial will come in the form of a written notice sent from the SSA. Included in this notification will be details describing exactly why the request was approved or denied. Also included will be information on how to continue the appeals process. Even if the request is again rejected after reconsideration, there are still options to pursue to try to obtain benefits.

One of the possible avenues for further appeal may be requesting a hearing from an administrative law Judge. Before the hearing, the complainant will probably have to provide the SSA with additional information, arguments, or other documents to support their position.

Administrative Law Judge working on a Social Security Appeal case

The hearing will take a form closely resembling a trial. The client’s lawyer, for example, will have the ability to bring forth witnesses such as doctors, family members and others to give testimony regarding the nature of the applicant’s disability. The lawyer will ask these witnesses questions, and the judge will observe.

After the hearing has concluded, the judge will make a decision regarding the appeal for disability. However, receiving notification of this decision could take as long as several months. If the claim is again denied by this judge, it can be appealed again to the Appeals Council of the SSA.

Thankfully, consideration by the Appeals Council does not require another trial like hearing. Instead, the applicant will learn of the decision by the council via mail. If the claim is again denied, the final option left to an applicant is to file a federal lawsuit against the Agency. While the chances of winning such a lawsuit are slim, it is possible.

One place to find plenty of information on how to navigate through the appeals process is the SSA’s website. You will find instructions on how to appeal as well as the necessary forms you need to file.

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