Social Security Disability Lawyers
If you apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits and you do not agree with the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) decision—you have the right to appeal. When you appeal the decision of the SSA, you are asking them to take another look at your claim. Though the SSA carefully considers all the information presented to them, sometimes the right information is not there or some information has changed. Regardless, you have the right to ask the SSA to look at your case again. If the decision was wrong—it will be changed and Social Security lawyers can help you.
Your Right to Representation
When you are denied benefits and decide to appeal the SSA’s decision, you have the right to representation. There a number of forms that need to be completed, papers to be filed, and deadlines to meet. The Social Security Disability lawyers are familiar with the appeals process and they always put their clients first. For your disability help, they may be able to get you the benefits you deserve.
Starting Your Appeal
If you were denied benefits, you have 60 days after you receive the SSA denial letter to file an appeal. Failure to appeal in this time-frame may cause you to lose your right to appeal. You must appeal a SSA denial in writing, unless your claim was denied for medical reasons, in which case you can appeal online. A Social Security Disability lawyer can help you file your appeal.
The appeals process can be confusing and time-consuming. Below is a description of the process according to the SSA:
- You or your lawyer sends a signed request for appeal to the SSA.
- The SSA reviews it to make sure all of the information is complete.
- The SSA will contact you to complete a disability report and to sign medical release forms if you have not already done so. If you have submitted the report, the SSA will review it to make sure all of the information is complete.
- The SSA will send your case to the office that determines if you are disabled under Social Security law.
- That office will request any new medical records that you have listed on your medical report.
- That office will then review all of your medical records—both old and new.
- If you have requested a face-to-face review, that office will make an appointment to meet with you. You will have an opportunity to meet face-to-face with someone from the office that decides your case. If you want this face-to-face meeting, the SSA will make the appointment with you.
- The decision-making office will notify you in writing of their decision on your case.
Having a Social Security Disability attorney by your side during this complex process can make the difference between winning and losing your appeal.
Four Levels of Appeal
In the disability appeals process, your appeal has the potential to pass through four different levels of appeal: reconsideration, hearing, appeals council review, and court case.
When you ask the SSA to reconsider your claim, someone from Disability Determination Services (DDS), who had no part in the first decision, will review the evidence in your claim, along with any new evidence. After the reconsideration process is complete, the SSA will send a letter explaining their decision.
If you disagree with the reconsideration decision, you can request a hearing. During the hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), who had no part in the first decision, will question you (and any witnesses you bring) about your claim. The ALJ may ask you to clarify the medical evidence in your case or present new information and then issue a decision. Your SSD attorney will be present through the entire process.
Appeals Council Review
Should you disagree with the decision of the ALJ, you can ask for your case to be reviewed by the SSA’s Appeals Council. The Appeals Council has the right to deny your request for review. If they decide to review your case, they will decide the case themselves or return your case to an ALJ for further action.
If you are denied Appeals Council Review, you can have your Social Security Disability attorney file a case against Social Security in a Federal or District Court.
Reopening a Disability Claim
In certain circumstances you may be able to reopen your claim after you have been denied. According to the SSA, a claim can be reopened within 24 months of the notice of initial determination if the SSA:
- receives new and material evidence
- makes a clerical error
- determines that the evidence used in making the determination or decision clearly shows that the determination or decision was incorrect
Claims can be reopened and revised by a Social Security office, an ALJ, or the Appeals Council within a certain amount of time in a variety of circumstances. Your SSD attorney can advise you about the potential to reopen your claim.
Refiling an Initial Claim
If you have an outstanding appeal, you have the right to refile an initial claim, whether that claim is for the same or a different issue. Depending on the level of your current claim in appeal and nature of your subsequent claim, your claims may be consolidated or continue as separate claims.