Putting together an application for disability benefits is stressful. Gathering all of the necessary information and completing out the required forms can be confusing and overwhelming. Having an application for Social Security Benefits be denied can be devastating and negatively impact your livelihood.
Fortunately, a denial of Social Security benefits doesn’t have to be the end of the process. You can appeal a denial of Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits. Believe it or not, however, the appeals process is even more complicated than the initial application. This is why it is imperative that you seek out the counsel of an attorney experienced in obtaining disability benefits, like our Social Security attorneys.
There are a number of stages to the appeals process, each with its own unique characteristics. If you have appealed for SSDI or SSI benefits and been denied, you have 60 days from the receipt of the denial letter to appeal the decision. The first stage of the appeals process is called a Request for Reconsideration. During reconsideration, a third party, someone who was not involved in the initial decision, reviews your application. If your application is denied, you are entitled to move on to the next stage of appeals.
The second stage of the appeals process is the hearing by an Administrative Law Judge. which you have the right to request. Prior to the hearing, information and medical evidence is exchanged and made part of the administrative record. During the hearing, witnesses are questioned and additional documents may be submitted. On the basis of all of this evidence, the Judge will make a decision about whether to affirm or overturn the denial of Social Security benefits.
If benefits are denied even after a hearing, the applicant has the right to request that the Social Security Appeals Council review the case. The Appeals Council can review the record and grant the benefits or send the case back down for another hearing. They can also agree with the denial, refusing to review the case at all.
If the Appeals Council affirms the denial or refuses to review the case, the applicant can file a lawsuit in Federal Court. This is the last step in the appeals process. This court will make the final determination as to whether benefits should be granted or denied.
Regardless of whether the original application was submitted by the applicant him or herself or by an attorney, it is crucial that the individual be represented by counsel during the appeal. Our attorneys are skilled in all phases of this intricate process and can assist you in making the best appeal possible. Having an attorney on your side can only increase the chances of a favorable decision, and there is NO FEE UNLESS YOU WIN.
The government offers two main types of benefits to those who are disabled. The first is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD or SSDI). SSDI is a benefit that is earned by paying into the system through income tax contributions. It does not matter how much money you have paid into the system; only the duration of your payments is measured. If you have paid in for a sufficient number of quarters annually, you are eligible for this benefit regardless of your financial situation. The government will also provide financial compensation if you, your spouse or your child or children become disabled and unable to work. Even legal permanent residents who have paid in for the required length of time can receive SSDI.
The second type of disability benefit provided by the government is Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI). SSI is available to those with few financial resources who are disabled and therefore unable to work. This program is means-tested, so even those who have never worked may be eligible. You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to qualify for SSI; even permanent legal residents can apply.