appeal a denial of disability benefits

You may not be aware that millions of people apply for disability benefits with the Social Security Administration (SSA) each year. The majority of those applications are denied.  

Why is the Disability Benefits Denied?

Disability benefits are denied after the initial application approximately 70% of the time. This means that more than half of applications are denied. The denials are not always completely based on the fact that the decisionmakers feel that you don’t deserve a disability award. Many claims are denied because the application is not properly or completely filled out. There may be insufficient medical evidence, or the forms may have errors and mistakes, or the medical history may be lacking some necessary information. The applicant may have failed to appear for a scheduled medical exam or something of that nature.  

Then, there are cases where a person’s income is too high for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or they have too many assets or too much income when they apply for Social Security Income (SSI). Their disability may not be severe enough to keep them from working longer than a year. A person could only be partially disabled, and that disability is not severe enough to keep them from finding employment.  

First Determine Why You Were Denied Disability Benefits

The first thing you need to when you receive a denial letter from the SSA is to review the letter carefully to note their reasons for the denial. Don’t let this letter crush your hopes so that you give up on the process. And don’t just reapply, since reapplying may likely result in another denial. You need to move on to the appeals process.  

There most likely will be more than one reason for the denial, and it is essential that you note and remedy any issues as your case moves on. Once you make that determination, you must start the appeals process in a way that will give you the best chances of a fair award. When you are at this stage, it would be a good idea to get the help of a denial of disability attorney in Jacksonville. It probably isn’t likely that if you were denied once without an attorney that you will be able to navigate the appeals process successfully without help. Your greater chance is with the help of an attorney with experience in getting awards for people. 

Request Reconsideration

There is generally a 60-day deadline to begin the appeals process after a denial. That really isn’t a long time, so you really need to contact an attorney to get the ball rolling immediately after you receive your denial letter. This said, you can get an attorney involved after you begin the initial appeal, but it is always best to start off strong and represented by someone that will fight for you.  

You must first file a request for reconsideration with the SSA. They will have someone that is new to your case review the information you provided in the initial application and decide if you should have been awarded benefits.  You can provide additional information for the SSA to review with this reconsideration request. About 5-10% of people denied after the first application will be approved at this stage. If your application for benefits is again denied, then you must move on to the next stage in the appeals process.

Request a Hearing

If your request for reconsideration of benefits is denied, then you have the right to ask for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). You have the right to be represented by an attorney at this hearing. As with all things in this appeals process, there are strict time limitations, so you have to request a hearing within 60 days of your denial.

You will need to prepare properly for your hearing because at this stage, you will appear before the ALJ and present testimony along with the testimony of any witnesses. It would be extremely helpful to have a denial of a disability attorney in Jacksonville to help you prepare for the hearing.

The SSA can ask for a vocational expert and medical expert to be present to give testimony about your case. You need to have a good attorney to help you determine if you need to provide any additional information for your case, such as evidence of changes or worsening in your condition. And you need to determine if you should have witnesses at the hearing.

The ALJ will question you and the witnesses and will give you a written decision at some point after the hearing.  When cases reach this stage, ALJs approve about 50% of cases for disability benefits. 

Appeals Council

If you are not approved for disability benefits by the ALJ, you can appeal your case to the Appeals Council. You again have 60 days from the ALJ’s decision to request this appeal. This is different than the other appeals process because your chance at getting the Appeals Council to review your case is not absolute.  

They look at each case and decide if they believe the ALJ was correct or not. If they think the ALJ rendered a correct decision, then they will not review your case. If they believe there is a reason for them to review it, then they will either look at your case and make a decision or send it to an ALJ to review it further and to make a final decision. The Appeals Council only grants benefits in 2% to 3% of the cases they review.

File a Lawsuit in Federal Court

If the Appeals Council denies you claim, then the last chance at success resides with the federal court system. You can file a lawsuit in court. At this stage in the process, it is imperative you have legal representation by a denial of a disability attorney in Jacksonville. The court will hear evidence, and either make a decision or send it back to an ALJ for a decision.  

Let the experienced disability injury attorneys at RITE Law, help you. When you turn to our firm, we spring into action, making sure that every detail of your claim is addressed. Call us for help. Our number is (904) 500-RITE or you can fill out our contact form online. We provide a free case evaluation, so feel free to call us today.