You have several options if the initial denial of your application for SSDI, Social Security Disability Insurance; SSI, or Supplemental Security Income; is upheld. And although though pursuing an appeal can take months or even years, there is a chance that it will be successful. According to a recent annual report from Social Security on the program, roughly a third of workers who received SSDI benefits between 2011 and 2020 were applicants who filed an appeal after initially being denied.
You should though with an attorney, such as Kenton Koszdin Law Office, before proceeding with it.
The appeals process is divided into four steps.
DDS, or Disability Determination Services, state-level Social Security organizations, evaluate medical eligibility for disability benefits. Your first line of defense if they do not accept your claim is to request a reconsideration from the SSA, or Social Security Administration. Online or by mailing the completed forms SSA-3441, SSA-561, and SSA-827 to your regional Social Security office, you can request reconsideration.
An examiner and medical team from your state DDS who were not engaged in the initial review reexamined your claim during a reconsideration. You can provide further proof, such as documents of more recent medical tests/treatments, and you can also bring out proof DDS might have overlooked the first time around. The examiners themselves may make a request for more details.
- Hearing in front of a judge of administrative law
If DDS won’t reconsider its decision, you can ask for an ALI, or administrative law judge hearing. The ALJ will examine the relevant documentation and hear your testimony as well as that of any expert witnesses. Use the online appeal system or fill up and mail a form HA-501 to ask for a hearing. You have the option of having your hearing in person, over the phone, or online using video.
- Appeals council
A panel of members from the Appeals Council will review the judge’s conclusions, the evidence, and any additional information you choose to present. If the claimant decides to make an oral argument, there are three members of the panel; if the council is merely looking at the case record, there are only two. (If the two of them can’t agree, a third person is added to break the tie.) The judge may be told to hold a new hearing and issue a new decision, or the council may uphold, modify, or reverse the ALJ’s decision.
- Federal tribunals
Your final resort is the federal bench. You have the option to sue in U.S. District Court if the Appeals Council rejects your appeal. A negative decision made there may be contested at the US Circuit Court of Appeals. Information on how to file a lawsuit in support of an Appeals Council decision will be included in the letter Social Security sends you regarding the decision.
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