If your original Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or SSI claim is denied, you may want to appeal. You will receive instructions from the Social Security Administration (SSA), and you will need to follow them. Watch the deadlines to ensure that you do not have to start over.
Request for Reconsideration of Original Claim
You can request the SSA to review your case again. This step is done at the local field office of the SSA, but the examiner and medical consultants that were part of the original case will not be a part of the review. It can take a few weeks up to a few months, depending on the caseload of the agency. After it has been reviewed, you will receive a notice of explanation. If it is denied, you can go to the next step if you choose. About 5% of reconsideration claims are approved.
Administrative Law Judge Review
Once your reconsideration claim is denied, you will have 60 days to file a request for a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ), who is an attorney who works for the Social Security Administration’s Office of Hearing and Appeals. The ALJ will uphold the decision or overturn it. You have about a 67% chance of winning the review with an ALJ, but it take about a year or more to get the decision.
If the ALJ denies your application, the next step is to ask the Appeals Council for review. The Appeals Council randomly selects cases for review, and they may not even review your case. You only have about a 2% chance of winning, but you must seek a review in the Appeals Council to exhaust the appeal process before filing in Federal Court. It will most likely take a year or more to get an answer from the Appeals Council.
Federal Court Review
The final step in the appeals process is a review in a U.S. District Court. You will most certainly need an attorney by this point, if you decide to proceed. Fewer than 1% of disability claimants actually get to this step. It is expensive and time consuming, but you do stand a good chance of succeeding.
Alternatives to the Appeal Process
You do have the option to request the SSA to reopen your claim. You can do this at any level with whichever division has your claim, but you may have time limits on this. You can also file a new claim when you lose an appeal at any level. When you do so, you start the process again. If you have had a change in your condition, this will improve your chances at being granted benefits.
Finding a Lawyer
Most people initiate their SSI or SSDI claim without an attorney. At any point in the appeals process, you can hire an attorney to help you with your claim. Call Atlanta based attorney John A. Snyder to provide you with high quality representation through the appeals process. Save yourself the stress and let someone with experience help you.