Even if your Social Security Disability application was initially denied, you should not give up. The Social Security Administration denies the vast majority of initial applications.
Thankfully, there is an appeals process. I am attorney Gary Jones at The Law Center for Social Security Disability in Oklahoma City, and I can help you navigate the appeals process successfully.
The Stages Of Social Security Disability Appeals
I have 24 years of experience successfully guiding people like you through the Social Security Disability appeals process. The first step will be to review your claim and determine whether we need to gather any additional material. The SSA rejects and denies a great percentage of the applications they receive for benefits — indeed, only 25 percent of applications are approved on the first attempt. And this isn't surprising, given that the system is set up to discourage people from applying for benefits.
Once I have all of the documentation necessary, I will proceed through the following appeal stages:
- Request for reconsideration: This is the first stage of the appeals process. It is simply a written request that the Social Security Administration reconsider your application. At this step, if you haven't already, it is very important to consult a local, experienced Social Security attorney to develop a strategy to submit a stronger application for reconsideration. It's also important to note that you have only 60 days to this appeal.
- Hearing before an administrative law judge: In this stage of the appeals process, I will actually present information to an administrative law judge. You will provide testimony. With your help we can produce medical documentation verifying your disability. Applicants have 60 days to request this hearing after receiving the reconsideration denial. It may take between 12 and 24 months for Social Security to schedule your hearing. An experienced attorney can prepare you for this delay, and also gather all the appropriate medical and work history documentation you'll need for the hearing, make sure your hearing file contains all the necessary information and present your case to the ALJ in the best possible light to increase your chances of being awarded benefits.
- Review by the Appeals Council: If the administrative law judge's decision was not favorable, we can request that it be reviewed by the Appeals Council. Appeals are mostly based on the existing case evidence in your file — no new evidence or documentation can be presented on appeal. Because of this, it's extremely important that all the necessary information supporting your claim has been submitted during the application, reconsideration and administrative hearing steps of the process. The Appeals Council may remand the claim to the administrative law judge for further development, correct legal errors or to take additional testimony.
- Federal district court: The next level of the appeals process involves filing a civil action in federal district court. These cases are rare.
Free Consultation About Social Security Disability Appeals
With so much at stake, it's best not to tackle this process alone. When pursuing a SSI or SSDI claim, a qualified, experienced and local disability lawyer can help you get the benefits you deserve. Contact The Law Center for Social Security Disability for a free consultation by calling 405-896-8852 or filling out our online contact form.