How the Disability Appeals Process Works
Those people who have applied for Social Security Disability and had their application turned down have every right to appeal the decision. Social Security Disability appeals begin with a request made in writing to reconsider the decision. When this letter is received by the SSA the department is prompted to send the necessary appeals paperwork to the applicant to be completed and returned to the SSA. If the application is still denied upon the first appeal then it can go to a hearing, which is held in front of an Administrative judge. Further appeal steps include an Appeals Council review and a lawsuit in US Federal court. As the process is extremely complex and tedious, most applicants hire a Social Security lawyer to help them.
The SSA will review the application for benefits upon receipt and either approve the application or deny it. If the application was denied, the reasons for denial are given along with complete information on the appeal process. Disability appeals begin when the claimant does not agree with the denial of benefits decision and asks for reconsideration. There is a 60 day window in which to make this appeal after receipt of the decision letter.
The paperwork that is needed to support a request for consideration should be completed and returned promptly. The paperwork must include all the specifics of why the benefits are deserved, including information from the applicant’s doctor or doctors, the results of recent medical examinations, etc. The request for review will be handled by an SSA officer who was not a part of the original decision.
If this application for review also ends up being denied the process can go to a hearing in front of an administrative judge. The original applicant will be given 20 days’ notice to the time and place of the hearing. In most cases the hearings are set as close as possible to the claimant’s home. Both sides are given the opportunity to question witnesses about the information which has been included in the application and appeals documentation. The judge will render his or her decision and advise the applicant in writing.
A disability appeals case can escalate to an appeals council. Although the council reviews every request they do not have to grant the review if they are of the opinion that the decision rendered to date is correct. The final step if all else fails is to sue the SSA in Federal court; information regarding how to do so is made available to the applicant by the appeals council should they find against the applicant.