If I am denied disability benefits, how can I appeal the ruling?
The initial application could take 90 to 120 days to review by a Social Security disability examiner. During this stage all the information you provide will be verified and if more information is needed you may be asked to undergo some more medical tests. The Social Security processors will make a determination on your case with all the information they have gathered. Only about 25 percent of initial applicants are approved. If you are denied disability benefits in this initial stage you can make an appeal.
There are four stages in the Social Security Disability appeals process:
If your claim is denied at the initial stage you can make an appeal on the determination within 60 days. Your application will then be sent for reconsideration, which is the first stage of the appeals process. This may take 3 to 5 months and on average, only about 15 percent of cases are awarded benefits at this stage. If you are among the 85 percent who are denied benefits at this stage and you still want to make an appeal you must request for a hearing within 60 days after the denial.
The hearing is the second stage of the appeals process and if you are denied at this stage you have two more stages to make an appeal. This stage can take more than a year and an administrative law judge(ALJ) will be appointed to determine your case. It is important to present all the facts and supporting evidence clearly using terminology that Social Security is looking for. Although the hearing takes places in offices and not an actual courtroom, it is recommended that you have a lawyer represent your case. Your chances of having disability benefits awarded to you improve greatly when you are legally represented. About two-thirds of the cases are approved at this stage.
Appeals Council Review
If you are denied at the hearing you can make a further appeal to the Appeals Council Review. This appeal has to be addressed to the office of Adjudication & Review, where your case will be reviewed and a determination made. If you are denied and still want to appeal, then the final court you can appeal to is the Federal District court.
Federal District Court
Your case will be taken to the District court in your area and a decision will be made by one of the judges in the District court. It is mandatory at this stage to have a lawyer represent your case.
The reason why most cases do not get approved at the initial application level and even after an appeal is made is because most people fail to provide the necessary documentation that the Social Security processors are looking for. Appointing a Social Security disability attorney or advocate will greatly improve your chances of being awarded benefits because you will be represented by someone who is well-versed in the social disability claims process and knows exactly how to appeal a disability benefits denial.
Request for a Free Disability Evaluation!
If you would like to know whether you case is eligible for SSD benefits, request for a FREE Evaluation right now. We’ll contact you within 24 hours to answer any SSD questions you have. Get a free consultation.