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What to Do When You Are Denied Social Security Disability

How to Appeal A Social Security Disability Decision

You have suffered a disability that you genuinely believe prevents you from working. Consequently, you have carefully submitted a claim to the Social Security Administration (SSA) for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and your claim has been denied.

If this has happened to you and your initial application has been rejected, do not give up on your effort to secure financial assistance. You have the right to appeal a decision, and you are by no means alone. In fact, about the-thirds of all initial claims for disability assistance are rejected by the SSA.

Instead, if you have not already done so, you need to secure the assistance of an experienced Social Security disability attorney who will stand by you and guide you through the lengthy appeals process. This procedure can be long and complicated, but in the end, it’s quite possible you will get the financial assistance you need, despite the initial rejection.

At Leventhal, Sutton & Gornstein, we have years of experience working with clients whose initial claim for Social Security disability benefits has been rejected, and we can help you move forward with your appeal for SSA financial support.

Information Needed for An Appeal

In addition to having the assistance of an experienced disability attorney, you will need the following to make a successful appeal of your initial rejection for disability benefits.

  • The names and contact information of any individuals familiar with your illness, injuries, or condition and willing to provide information to SSA representatives.
  • An update on your condition since you filed your original application for benefits, especially any new physical or mental medical evidence.
  • Any updated medical contact information.
  • Information related to any additional medical tests you’ve had since filing your original application.
  • A complete list of all medications you’re currently taking – including over-the-counter meds – as well as the name of the doctor(s) who prescribed them.

The Appeals Process

Here are the four steps involved in appealing your denial of SSDI benefits.

1) Reconsideration: Your initial step in the appeals process involves submitting A Request for Reconsideration and an Appeal Disability Report to the appropriate state agency working with the SSA. In Pennsylvania, that is the Bureau of Disability Determination (BDD).

An examiner and a member of the medical team not involved in your original application for benefits will take a second look at your claim. You can also submit additional medical information, as well as pointing out any details you think may have been overlooked at the time of your initial claim. The examiners may also request additional information from you.

If you are denied at this level, you have 60 days from the date you received your rejection to schedule a hearing.

According to the most recent SSA data available, it takes on average 147 days to get a reconsideration decision, and only about one in nine are approved.

2) Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge: If your claim for reconsideration has been turned down, you can request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). You must fill out an appeal requesting this hearing as well as an Appeal Disability Report. If granted, the ALJ will review the evidence in your case and listen to your testimony, your legal counsel, and any other witnesses.

That said, you should be prepared to wait anywhere from 8 to 24 months to get your hearing date. Once the date is set, your hearing will probably last only an hour or so, but it could take several weeks to several months to get the judge’s decision in your case.

According to the most recent SSA data, the approval rate at this stage has gradually increased to about 57 percent.

3) Appeals Council Review: If the ALJ ruled against you, you can appeal to the SSA’s Appeals Council. A panel of Appeals Council members will review the judge’s ruling along with any additional information you may want to provide. The council can uphold, modify, or reverse the judge’s decision. The council can also order the judge to hold a new hearing and issue another decision.

The most recent data indicates that it takes about a year from the time the Council receives an appeal until it renders a decision.

4) Federal Courts: If your claim for benefits has been rejected at all levels, you can take your case to the U.S. District Court. A District Court judge will hear your case and issue a decision in writing. If the judge rejects your claim, you can appeal the ruling to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

At this level, it can take years to get a decision in your case, and while taking your appeal to the federal courts is an option, it’s better to do all you can to resolve the situation before reaching this stage.

Conclusion – Help is Available at Leventhal, Sutton & Gornstein

From this summary, you can see that the appeals process can be protracted and complicated, but in the end it can be well worth the effort to secure the financial assistance desperately needed by you and your family.

At Leventhal, Sutton & Gornstein, disability law is one of our specialized practice areas, and we have helped thousands of individuals secure the disability income they need. We offer an initial free consultation, and we urge you to contact our firm today to schedule a meeting with our attorneys and give us the opportunity to appeal your case to a successful conclusion.

Posted on June 20th, 2023 by Leventhal, Sutton and Gornstein

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