After months of waiting anxiously for an approval, you might end up receiving a denial letter in the mail from Social Security instead. If you have applied to Social Security and have been turned down, it's now time to appeal the decision. Read on to learn more.
The Appeals Process
As with all things governmental, the Social Security Administration has a process in place for appeals. Sadly, many applicants never take the steps necessary to have their appeals heard. Each of the steps listed below must be taken in order, and each step has its own deadlines for filing and responding.
The Reconsideration Review
The reconsideration review is the first order of business in some, but not all, states. As you might have determined from the name, in this step a Social Security claims examiner takes a second look at your initial application to make sure that a mistake wasn't made when the claim was denied. In some cases, your supporting documents may have become separated from your application or you may have sent them in too late.
Administrative Law Judge Review
For most applicants, this is the main appeals hearing. These hearings give applicants an opportunity to have their case reviewed and be approved for the benefits they need. You may take an attorney, witnesses, and other support people with you to the hearing. Often, the administrative law judge that presides over the hearing will ask you questions about your medical condition, and a vocational expert will provide advice to the judge. The vocational expert will give their opinion about the way your medical condition does and does not affect your ability to do your job. Your attorney has the opportunity to ask the vocational expert questions as well.
The Appeals Council
If your case at the administrative law review is not successful, you can have it reviewed by an SSA appeals council. No new evidence can be presented (unlike at the previous hearing), and you will not be present. The case is reviewed to ensure that the denial was valid.
Here, the applicant actually files suit naming the SSA as the defendant. Instead of a court case, it is really more of a paperwork event. You will need legal representation for this level of hearings.
Many people who use an attorney end up getting approved at the administrative law judge review. Speak to a social security disability lawyer to learn more.