After you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), the Social Security Administration (SSA) will send a letter with their decision. If you get a denial letter, it can be disheartening. However, there is still hope. You can appeal an SSDI decision if you feel it was wrong.
There are different stages of the SSDI appeal method. The process starts with you asking for an appeal. While the appeals process seems simple, there are a lot of working parts to it that can make it extremely difficult for the average person to navigate. Luckily, our lawyers explain how you can make an appeal and help you through every step.
SSDI Rejections Are Common
Countless amounts of SSDI applicants get rejected every year. The reasons why vary between:
- Incorrectly filling out the application
- Not providing enough information or proof of disability
- A past history of substance abuse or lack of care for your health
- Having too many past rejections or appeals
- The SSA not considering your disability or circumstances enough to qualify for benefits
Regardless of the reason you got rejected, it’s not impossible to fight back. You shouldn’t have to go into financial ruin just because of the SSA’s initial decision. Always try to get the benefits you deserve.
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How to Appeal an SSDI Denial
If the SSA denies your benefits, you can request an appeal right away. You must provide an appeal request in writing and within 60 days. Additionally, if the SSA denies your claim for medical reasons, you can apply online or through Form SSA-561.
Many people choose to file their requests online because it’s the fastest option. When you request online, you can uphold documents for your appeal. You don’t have to live in the United States to file an online appeal. You can start the appeal process online if you live outside of the country.
Levels of Appeal for SSDI Rejection
There are four primary levels when appealing a decision by the SSA for your SSDI benefits:
- Administrative law judge hearing
- Appeals Council review
- Federal Court review
Your letter from the SSA will detail how you can appeal the decision. Let’s look at what you can expect from each appeal level.
Request a Reconsideration
Requesting a reconsideration is the first step. When you ask for this review, an entirely different person will look over your claim. That person will evaluate all your evidence from before plus anything new you provide.
Before requesting a review, it’s wise to speak with a SSDI lawyer. The SSA often denies claims because there was not enough evidence. A lawyer can determine why you did not receive benefits and what you need to change to improve your chances.
Most of the time, you do not need to be present for a reconsideration. However, SSA sometimes denies benefits when they claim a condition has improved. If that describes your case, you can meet with an SSDI representative to plead your case.
Administrative Law Judge Hearing
After the reconsideration request, the SSA will send you a decision. If you disagree with the decision, you can request a hearing. An administrative law judge will handle your hearing. They will let you know the time and place. The judge will be someone who was not involved in your first decision or reconsideration. The hearing usually gets held within 75 miles of where you live.
You will have a chance to provide more evidence for your case before the hearing. The judge will ask you questions. You can also bring certain witnesses, such as medical experts, to the hearing. Your lawyer can also attend the hearing. Sometimes, the SSA will schedule a video hearing, which usually happens sooner than an in-person hearing.
Wherever the hearing occurs, it’s best if you are present to support your claim. If you cannot attend a hearing, you must let the SSA know why in writing. When the hearing is over, the judge will decide your case. They will consider all current and new information. You will receive a letter explaining the judge’s decision.
Appeals Council Review
If the hearing does not end in a good decision, you can request an Appeal Council review. During this process:
- The Appeals Council will look at all review requests.
- If the Council believes your hearing decision was right, they might deny your claim.
- If the Council chooses to review the request, it will decide or send your case to another administrative law judge.
You will receive a letter with a denial of your request or the Appeals Council or judge’s decision.
Federal Court Review
Finally, you can file a lawsuit if you disagree with the above decisions. When you get your letter about the Appeals Council decision, there will be instructions for this step. Get an SSDI lawyer for the federal court review if you don’t already have one.
You will need an experienced attorney who can fight for your rights. Your lawyer can strengthen your case as much as possible to show why you need SSDI benefits.
Getting SSDI Benefits During the Appeal Process
It depends. You might be able to ask the SSA to continue your benefits until you receive a decision. It’s a possibility if:
- You’re appealing because the SSA has decided you are no longer disabled.
- You’re appealing a decision about discontinuing, reducing, or suspending Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
- Let the SSA know within 10 days of getting your letter if you want to keep receiving benefits.
Keep in mind that there are some drawbacks to this. You may have to pay back the money should you not receive benefits.
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Never Settle for Rejection From the SSA
As a part of the workforce, you spent the majority of your career paying into the Social Security system. Don’t find yourself in a situation where all of that goes to waste. SSDI isn’t a handout or form of charity you have to beg for. It’s something that every working person has the right to obtain if they’re disabled or unable to work anymore.
Getting rejected is difficult, but it’s not the end of the world. There are many ways in which you can challenge the decision the SSA made for your case. Allow one of our SSDI lawyers to assist you in getting the benefits you need.
Get a Social Security Disability Lawyer to Help You
You don’t have to hire a lawyer to help you with your appeal case. The SSA allows you to handle your appeal alone. However, we highly recommend having an SSDI lawyer to support you, especially if you find yourself out of your depth and don’t know where to start.
Our SSDI lawyers can help you by:
- Outlining the entire appeals process to you in simple terms
- Help you understand all the options available for your appeal
- Go over your application materials and ensure any paperwork you file is accurate
- Represent you and your best interests before the SSA during the appeals process
Our primary goal is to see that you get the benefits you need. We don’t take any payment up front and don’t get paid unless we can successfully handle your appeal for you. You can trust our lawyers to provide you with all the assistance you need.
Talk to a Social Security Disability Lawyer for Free Today
At John Foy & Associates, we can help you with each step of the appeal process. With over 20 years of experience, we know what the SSA is looking for in a claim. Our Social Security Disability lawyers can help you present old and new evidence in the best way possible. Call us to schedule a free consultation or contact us online.