Can I Appeal A Denied Social Security Disability Claim?

September 18, 2017 | By O'Connor Acciani & Levy
Can I Appeal A Denied Social Security Disability Claim?

Many people get discouraged when their initial claim for Social Security Disability benefits is denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, the truth is that many initial applications are denied and you may still have a chance of obtaining benefits by appealing. Our Social Security Disability lawyers in Cincinnati have created a guide to the steps in the appeal process. If your first attempt at obtaining benefits was denied, contact us today to learn why you need a Social Security Disability lawyer to guide you through every step of the appeal and fight for your best interests

Reconsideration For SSD

If you receive a denial letter, you have 60 days to file an appeal, also known as reconsideration. A reconsideration is a new review of your entire claim. It will be performed by an examiner and medical consultant who were not involved in your initial decision. Essentially, your case is reviewed by an entirely new set of eyes to ensure that your application received fair and impartial consideration. The new examiners will consider all of the evidence that you submitted previously, and any new information you provide. Your denial letter will list the specific reasons you were denied, which should help your attorney determine what new information you should provide to hopefully improve your chances of obtaining compensation. For instance, maybe the letter will say you should provide greater detail about your condition and how it affects you. Unfortunately, Disability Determination Services only grants about 5 to 10 percent of all reconsideration applications. If your disability appeal is denied, you will receive a denial notice that is similar to the initial refusal. At that point, you can pursue the next level of appeal.

Administrative Law Judge Hearing

If you do not agree with the reconsideration decision, you have 60 days from receiving the decision to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. When the judge receives your request, he or she will notify you of the time and place of your hearing. In preparation for the hearing, SSA representatives may ask for additional information about the evidence you have provided. You can also provide additional information you think will help your case. At the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge will be permitted to question you and any witnesses that you bring. These witnesses may include vocational and medical experts. You or your attorney are also allowed to question these witnesses. Approximately 67 percent of all appeals that reach an administrative law judge will be successful.

Appeals Council

If your claim is denied again, you can request that the Social Security Appeals Council review your case. The Appeals Council will review the decision of the administrative law judge before deciding whether it will hear your case. The council will dismiss your case without granting a review unless it finds one of three things:
  • The judge made an error or abused his or her discretion, which could include cutting your hearing short or denying you a chance to cross-examine a witness
  • The judge's decision is not supported by substantial evidence
  • There was a policy or procedural issue, such as the judge not notifying you that an expert witness would be at a hearing
Unfortunately, once you get to this point, there is only a two to three percent chance that you will win your appeal.

Federal Court Review

The next step if you want to continue your appeal is to file a lawsuit in a U.S. district court. A judge will review your case without the use of a jury. If there is a legal or egregious factual error in your case, the federal judge may reverse the prior decisions of the SSA or the Appeals Council. Federal judges change about one-third of all disability claims that are appealed to this level. The appeals process for Social Security Disability benefits can be confusing and time-consuming. You can attempt to go through the process on your own, but it is to your benefit to have an experienced attorney at your side. A lawyer will have detailed knowledge of the process and what it takes to be successful. He or she can help ensure you are putting your best foot forward every step of the way. Our firm provides representation on a contingency fee basis, which means your initial consultation is free and there is no charge unless you receive the compensation you deserve.