Experienced Guidance For A Disability Claim Appeal
Many individuals who apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are surprised when their claim is denied. The truth is, more than 65% of initial claims for SSDI are denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Some applicants file a new application rather than appeal the denial, but that claim will likely be denied as well and merely delay the process of having a claim approved.
An SSDI applicant has 60 days after receiving a notice of denial to appeal that decision. You may also file an appeal if you feel that SSDI benefits you were receiving are terminated prematurely. Enlisting help from a lawyer who is familiar with the SSDI appeal process is proven to increase your chances of successfully appealing a denied claim. At Center for Elder Law & Estate Planning, we bring the same personal attention and complete client commitment that we apply to our elder care legal services and other practice areas to assisting individuals who wish to appeal a denied SSDI claim.
How The Appeals Process Works
There are four different levels of appeal for a denied SSDI claim or for :
- Reconsideration: A review of your initial claim by someone who did not play a role in the first decision
- Hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ): A hearing in person or by video conference in which you may be asked to present more evidence. You may be represented by a lawyer and you may have witnesses testify. ALJs are attorneys who work for the SSA.
- Review by the appeals council: The Social Security Appeals Council may not approve your request for a review if it feels the ruling by the administrative law judge was correct.
- Federal court review: If you do not agree with the appeals council’s decision or the appeals council rejects your request for a review, you may file a lawsuit in federal district court.
Few cases are approved at the reconsideration level. The good news is that about half the appeals that go before an ALJ are approved. The objective at this stage is to strengthen your claim, a process that our knowledgeable attorneys can assist you with. You may need to provide more detailed medical evidence or show that you are following prescribed medical treatment. We will review your original claim and find the weaknesses that can be addressed.
Preparation Is Key
The attorneys at the Center for Elder Law & Estate Planning have a thorough understanding of the documents and other evidence SSA officials are looking for when reviewing claims. We also can work with your physicians to get the properly written statements that will strengthen your claim.
We are familiar with the line of questioning that ALJs follow so we can work with you before your hearing on how to answer those questions. A vocational expert who is hired by the SSA may testify at your hearing regarding your impairments and your ability to work. Once the ALJ finishes questioning this person, your attorney can cross-examine the vocational expert and effectively refute any claims they make that you are able to work.