Social Security Disability Appeal
If the SSA denied your claim for benefits, you can request a Social Security disability appeal. However, appeals can be complex and often involve administrative hearings and even a court appearance. You shouldn’t have to deal with this alone. A disability attorney can guide you through the process and help you obtain the best outcome possible. Call attorney Gary Brown at Disability Attorney Services LLC to learn more about how we can help you with the appeals process.
4 Levels of a Social Security Disability Appeal
If your disability claim is denied, you will receive a notice of denial in the mail from the SSA. That notice will provide you with instructions about how to file a Social Security disability appeal. It will also inform you of important deadlines. There are four levels of appeal:
- Request for Reconsideration
- Administrative Law Judge Hearing
- Review by the Appeals Council
- Review by the Federal Court
1. Request for Reconsideration
You have 60 days from the date of your initial denial to submit a request for reconsideration. A few states skip this step, but North Carolina is not one of them. In North Carolina, you would request a reconsideration of your initial claim after a denial.
You can request a reconsideration online through the SSA’s website. You may also file by mail with the forms that appear on the SSA website. If you have been seen by your doctor since your claim was denied or have additional information, you should include that with your Social Security disability appeal.
Reconsideration of your claim is basically another review that takes place at the Disability Determination Services (DDS). However, the second review is completed by a medical consultant and claims examiner who did not take part in the initial claim decision. They will review all your medical and vocational information and anything you submit along with your Social Security disability appeal documents.
Approximately 5 to 10 percent of DDS examiners approve initial claims upon reconsideration. You may also request reconsideration of a decision in a continuing disability claim.
It is best to work with a skilled attorney who can make sure you submit all the necessary information for your Social Security disability appeal.
2. Administrative Law Judge Hearing
If your request for reconsideration is denied, then you will have 60 days from that denial to request a hearing as the next step in the Social Security disability appeal. Your hearing will take place at an SSA location that is generally within 75 miles of your home, and your attorney can be with you to speak on your behalf.
The administrative law judge (ALJ) at your hearing will review medical and vocational documents that you have submitted and ask you questions. You may have an opportunity to explain exactly how your conditions affect you.
ALJs grant around 50 percent of all claims that come to them through a Social Security disability appeal.
3. Review by the Appeals Council
If the ALJ denies your claim, then you may submit a Social Security disability appeal to an SSA Appeals Council. The Appeals Council does not hear every case that is requested of them. Instead, they select those cases where it can be show that:
- The ALJ abused their discretion;
- The decision made by the ALJ is not supported by the majority of the evidence; or
- There is a significant policy or procedural issue.
The Appeals Council rarely approves claims that have been submitted through a Social Security disability appeal. In fact, only 2 to 3 percent of cases are approved by the Appeals Council.
It’s important to work with a disability attorney at this level because you will need to submit a brief that makes legal arguments and summarizes your case. You will want to point out the facts that are most complementary to your case in an attempt to achieve an approval of your claim.
4. Review by the Federal Court
If your Social Security disability appeal does not prevail at the Appeals Council level, or if your appeal is declined, then you may have to appeal to a U.S. District Court. At the court level, you will submit a lawsuit against the SSA that claims they have wrongfully denied your Social Security disability appeal. This level can be extremely difficult and time-consuming.
Social Security disability appeal cases are heard in federal court by actual judges, but not juries. You will submit all your evidence, including information you’ve provided to the SSA. You will also submit a brief that makes legal arguments about why the decisions denying your claim are incorrect.
Many Social Security disability appeals are approved at the federal court level; however, this is a step that most people avoid. It can be costly and time consuming to take a case to federal court. In fact, only 1 percent of SSD claimants go to federal court with their appeals.
Contact a Charleston NC Disability Attorney for Help With Your Social Security Disability Appeal
If your claim has been denied, don’t give up. Appeal the decision. While appeals are often successful at lower levels, it may be necessary to take your case to federal court. You need an attorney who is not afraid to go to court for you. Contact attorney Gary Brown at Disability Attorney Services LLC today to learn more about how we can help.