If you are hurt while doing your job and it prevents you from returning to regular work, you may have the right to Social Security Disability insurance (SSDI). All U.S. citizens pay into SSDI as part of the government’s Social Security program, and that means you have a right to seek benefits in certain situations.
However, many people apply for SSDI every day, and only a portion can be approved for benefits. If your application gets denied, you have the option to appeal the denial—but you’ll need to act fast and get the right help. Here’s what you need to know about Social Security Disability and the appeal process.
How Does Social Security Disability Work in Georgia?
Social Security Disability is a type of insurance meant for workers who are hurt on the job and their injuries prevent them from returning to gainful employment in the future. SSDI was created to help injured workers support themselves and their families when they can’t continue to work.
To receive SSDI, you must be able to prove that:
- You have a medical condition that keeps you from working
- And you meet the minimal requirements for paying into Social Security through taxes on your income.
Your application is reviewed by the Social Security Administration (SSA). If the SSA approves your application, you’ll begin receiving regular SSDI payments.
This system is not perfect, however, and it’s common for those who really need SSDI to get their application denied. (Currently, around 60% of Social Security Disability claims in Georgia are denied.) If that happens, you usually have 60 days from receiving your denial notice to appeal.
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How to Appeal a Social Security Disability Denial
If your application is denied and you want to appeal, there are four main steps in the appeal process in Georgia.
1. Request for Reconsideration
The first step in the appeal process is filing a Request for Reconsideration. This means you’re asking for someone to completely review your claim again.
The person who looks at your claim this time is never the same person involved in the initial process. The reviewer will look over all evidence from your original application as well as any new evidence you provide.
You can request this appeal and check on the status of your reconsideration request online. If you don’t want to do it online, you can also complete the process over the phone or at a local SSA office.
Unfortunately, many of these requests for reconsideration are also denied, which is why we recommend working with a Georgia Social Security Disability lawyer who can help.
2. Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge
If your reconsideration is denied and you disagree with the reasons for denial, you can request a hearing online. This hearing usually happens within 75 miles of where you live. It’s carried out by an administrative law judge who was not involved in any part of your application or reconsideration review.
Once this hearing has happened, you can also check the status online at the SSA website. The waiting period for a disability hearing can take hundreds of days to happen, and after that, you’ll typically wait 45-90 days for a decision from the hearing.
3. Appeals Council Review
If you are still denied benefits after the hearing, you can request a review by the SSA’s Appeals Council. You can do this online, by mail, or at your local SSA office. To request this review, you’ll need to provide the:
- SSA notice informing you of their decision
- Name, phone number, and address of your appointed representative, if someone is helping you with your case
- Documents that support your application, including legal documents, forms, and written statements
The Appeals Council will view every request, but if they believe the decision made at your hearing was lawful and warranted, they might deny the request. If they do review your case, they’ll either make the decision on it themselves or have an administrative law judge review it further.
4. Review by Federal Court
If the Appeals Council doesn’t review your case or they decide you don’t qualify for benefits, the last step would be filing a civil suit in federal district court. This is the only step of the appeal process for Social Security Disability you can’t do online.
The suit would be filed in the judicial district where you live or where your principal place of business is. There will be a fee for filing this suit. You’ll also need to send the SSA copies (by mail) of the complaint you file and the summons issued by the court.
How to Get Help with the Social Security Disability Process
As you can see, the appeal process for Social Security Disability in Georgia can be quite complex (and very frustrating), especially if you keep getting denied at each level. Not only are you having to compile more evidence proving your medical condition and how it disables you, but you must also deal with each rejection and waiting a long period of time (often a year or more) before getting an answer.
Because the process can be lengthy and stressful, many applicants will assume a denial is the final answer. But at John Foy & Associates, we believe all workers desire the right to benefits they deserve. As Social Security Disability lawyers, our goal is getting you the benefits you need to support yourself and your family. And we don’t get paid unless we win your case.
Research shows having an experienced attorney often increases your chance of approval. That’s because lawyers who understand the process can make changes to your case based on the reasons you were denied and the strength of your application. If you are struggling with the appeal process, don’t know where to start, or need help with your initial application, give us a call for a FREE consultation to go over the details. Call 404-400-4000 or fill out the form on this page to get started today.