When you are denied Social Security disability benefits, you are afforded the right to appeal the decision. In fact, this should be your only choice because if you start a new application (i.e., re-apply), you are putting yourself at the back of the line. By requesting a reconsideration, however, you are putting yourself one step closer to hearing with an Administrative Law Judge, which increases your chances of a favorable decision. Before you begin the process of requesting a reconsideration, though, we strongly recommend that you discuss your case with an experienced disability attorney. An attorney who is familiar with handling disability claims will in most cases be able to identify why your application for disability benefits was denied and what documentation you will need to possibly overcome the decision.
But why was my application denied if I am clearly disabled?
There are numerous reasons why the SSA might deny your claim. You might not have submitted enough medical evidence to prove your disability, or you might have exceeded the program’s income limits. Sometimes, the examiner assigned to your case at the Disability Determination Services (DDS) might have simply made an administrative error or overlooked part of your medical history. In any event, the government affords you the right to ask the SSA to reconsider its initial decision if you do not agree with it.
There are four levels of appeals in the Social Security benefit claims process:
- Hearing with an administrative law judge
- Appeals Council review
- Federal court
If your application is denied at one level, then you can appeal to the next.
The SSA’s Reconsideration Process
When you submit the Request for Reconsideration form, the SSA will review your case and reconsider all the facts. You are afforded the opportunity to present more supportive documents for them to review during this time. If your application was denied for medical reasons, you will want to collect and submit all your professional medical opinions, doctors’ notes, treatments and prognoses.
Your application will be reviewed by an agent at the Disability Determination Services, a federally funded, independent agency. The DDS agent who reviews your case will have had no part in the initial decision. The SSA explains, “That person will look at all the evidence used to make the original decision, plus any new evidence. When we make a decision on your reconsideration, we will send you a letter explaining the decision.”
Timeliness is critical in the appeals process.
You have only 60 days from the date the SSA mailed you its original decision in which to file your request for reconsideration. Failure to do so could bar your right to appeal.
If your application was wrongly denied, know that you’re not alone. As many as two-thirds of applications are initially denied. Don’t lose faith; we can help. Our team at Patton Brown Law in Winston-Salem is dedicated to helping disabled Americans and their families obtain the benefits they need through Social Security. Call us today at 855-860-2150 or contact us online and let us help you appeal your claim.