How to Appeal a Social Security Disability Decision

by Staff | June 24th, 2011

More than half of those who apply for Social Security Disability benefits are denied the first time around. If you disagree with the agency’s decision, you’ll want to begin the appeals process right away. Not only can it be time-consuming and confusing, but you may have to traverse four “levels” of the process before you receive the final word on the matter.

You should file your appeal in writing within 60 days of receiving your letter from the IRS. If your claim was denied for medical reasons, you can request an appeal on the agency’s website. If you have questions, you may contact your local Social Security office or allow the disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin to guide the way.

The first part of the process is called “reconsideration,” whereby someone who wasn’t involved in the original decision about your case will review all of your existing information plus any new information. You won’t usually need to be present for this.

If you disagree with the reconsideration decision, you may move on to the second part of the process, which is a hearing. An administrative law judge will hold a hearing for you within 75 miles of your home. Prior to the hearing you may be asked to gather more evidence, and during the hearing the judge may ask questions of you and any witnesses you’ve brought along. It is strongly recommended that you attend this hearing. Afterwards, the judge will send you a letter telling you his or her decision.

If you are denied benefits after a hearing you may ask the Social Security Appeal Council for a review. The Appeals Council must decide whether or not to review you case, and it will then decide whether to make a judgment or to return your case to an administrative law judge for a judgment. A letter will be sent to you explaining the council’s decision.

If you disagree with the Appeals Council’s decision or if they decided not to review your case, you can file a lawsuit in federal district court. This is the final level of the appeals process.

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Do you think the appeals process is unnecessarily complicated? If you need help with your Social Security Disability benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers at Fleschner, Stark, Tanoos & Newlin.

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