If you have a disability or medical condition, you may be able to receive Social Security Disability benefits. These benefits provide income supplements if you can’t work because of your medical condition. In order to qualify for Social Security Disability, certain criteria must be met.
Unfortunately, 70 percent of those who apply for Social Security Disability are denied. The good news is that a denial is not always the final answer. If you have applied for Social Security Disability but were denied, you can go through the appeal process.
When you go through this process, you are asking the Social Security Administration (SSA) to take another look at your case. To help you better understand, here are the answers to four frequently asked questions about the Social Security Disability appeal process.
1. What Is the Deadline for an Appeal?
If you get denied for Social Security Disability, you will get a letter in the mail. To appeal this decision, you can file an appeal and ask the SSA to reconsider your claim. This reconsideration is the first level of the appeals process.
In most cases, SSA needs to receive your appeal within 60 days of the date of the denial. You can call the SSA to request an appeal form. Another way to request a reconsideration is to submit it through the SSA website. No matter how you choose to file an appeal, you must do so by the deadline.
2. What Information Should the Appeal Contain?
You will need to submit supporting documentation. This documentation depends upon the reason you were denied for Social Security Disability benefits.
Some of the most common reasons people get denied include:
- You don’t have sufficient evidence that your medical condition prevents you from working.
- You have applied for Social Security Disability benefits in the past and were denied.
- You have not gone through the proper treatment for your condition as prescribed by your physician.
You will also want to include any new medical information that you received since you first filed for Social Security Disability.
When you file this first appeal, an examiner who was not involved in the initial claim, will do a complete review of your claim. They look at all the medical evidence you submitted that shows why you can’t work as a result of your medical condition.
Up to 10 percent of those who file an appeal at the first level get approved for benefits. However, if your claim gets denied again, you can pursue the next level of appeal, a request for hearing.
3. How Many Levels of Appeals Are There?
There are four levels of appeals for Social Security Disability. Submitting a reconsideration is the first level of appeal. You can keep appealing until you reach the fourth level of appeals.
Following a reconsideration, here are the next three levels of appeal.
This second level of appeal involves a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ). You must request a hearing with an ALJ within 60 days of the date of your reconsideration denial. The ALJ will notify you of when and where your hearing will take place.
For your hearing, you should bring any new information and evidence that will help your case. You can also bring witnesses, such as medical experts. If you can’t attend the hearing in person, a video hearing may be an option. Generally speaking, about 50 percent of those who file an appeal at this level get their denial overturned.
Appeals Council Review
If an ALJ denies your claim at the hearing, you can have the Social Security’s Appeals Council (AC) review your case. If the Appeals Council agrees with the ALJ, they can deny your claim. The Appeals Council only overturns a small percentage of all denials. If the AC remands your case, you will get a new hearing.
Federal Court Review
If the Appeals Council denies your claim or they refuse to review it, you can file a lawsuit with the federal court. You should know that appealing at the federal level is time-consuming and expensive. Less than 1 percent of all Social Security Disability cases reach this appeals level.
4. Who Can I Contact for Help With an Appeal?
If you have been denied Social Security Disability benefits and need help with an appeal, contact Horn & Kelley, P.C., Attorneys at Law. Your chances of approval improve by 30% when an attorney is involved in your claim. Our experienced Social Security Disability attorney in Illinois and Northwest Indiana can help you with every aspect of filing an appeal.