Millions of Americans apply for Social Security Disability benefits every year, and they expect their applications to be approved and their benefits to begin in a few months. Applicants pay into the Social Security program, and so it’s natural for them to expect their disability payments to come on time. However, sometimes the Social Security system is unpredictable.
According to the Disability Benefits Center, 70 percent of applicants are disappointed when their applications for disability benefits are denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA). If an application has been denied by the SSA, there is an option to appeal the denial letter.
How Can I Appeal My Benefits Denial?
A denial notice from the SSA will have instructions on what to do next, but these instructions can be confusing if someone is unsure which steps to take. In general, there are four general steps to take to carry out an appeal:
- Request for reconsideration. In Oklahoma and several other states, an applicant must first request that the initial denial be reviewed once more. He or she must first have the initial claim reviewed at the Disability Determination Services (DDS) level by a medical consultant and examiner who were not part of the denial decision. These individuals were not part of the initial denial decision, which means that other examiners and consultants who were part of the denial are barred from a reconsideration claim. Once someone starts receiving benefits again, their case will be re-examined on a continual basis.
- Administrative law judge hearing. If a request for reconsideration is denied and someone would like to continue to appeal, he or she will need to request a hearing before an administrative law judge within 60 days from the denial notice.
- Appeals council. If an appeal is lost at the disability hearing, a request can be made for the Appeals Council (AC) to review the case. The AC will try to find a mistake in the ALJ decision before granting a review, and there are many ways the Council can dismiss a case before even reviewing it.
- Federal court review. There is also the option of filing a lawsuit in the U.S. district court during the appeal process. This is when having a skilled Social Security disability attorney will come in handy. Federal judges will hear disability cases without juries, meaning the judge will review the case based on legal errors and sometimes factual questions. District court judges can reverse an ALJ or the AC in some cases, but many times they will remand cases back to the SSA.
The disability appeals process can be difficult to navigate, so applicants should contact an attorney who knows what legal steps are next. If you have been denied your benefits but you are interested in appealing, call a Tulsa disability attorney today at Troutman & Troutman, P.C. for a free consultation.