According to the Social Security Administration, the ultimate goal is to make sure that any application for Social Security disability income is correct. Unfortunately, application errors result in a large number of denials of requests for SSD. In fact, of all initial applications petitioned, roughly 65% are denied their first time. Even during reconsideration, it can be difficult to have the application approved. Thus, it is important to understand the appeals process and to have a skilled attorney on your side in order to potentially increase your chance of success.
The appeals process is broken down into four different levels: reconsideration, hearing by administrative law judge, Appeals Council review, and Federal Court review. Each step of the process has different requirements and standards to look for regarding whether a person qualifies for SSD.
During this level of appeals, a partial decision maker — i.e. someone who wasn’t involved in the initial decision — will completely review the SSD claim. This includes looking at the initial evidence submitted, as well as any new and additional evidence that may be added. Many reconsiderations are completed without the presence of the petitioner, but in some cases, the petitioner may meet with a representative of the Social Security Administration to explain why they feel they should still be eligible for disability.
Hearing By an Administrative Law Judge
After a decision has been made during the reconsideration level, a person may be able to request a hearing by an administrative law judge (ALJ) if they are unhappy with the decision. The ALJ in the case is someone who has had no previous association with the reconsideration or initial levels. The ALJ will question the applicant and the witnesses in the matter. After the hearing, the judge will come to a decision regarding the person’s eligibility to collect SSD benefits.
Appeals Council Review
If the person applying for Social Security is unhappy with the decision made during the hearing by an administrative law judge, they can request a review by the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council can reject the review of the case if it believes the hearing made the right decision. If they do hear the appeal, though, they will make a decision based on the evidence presented or return the review to the administrative law judge hearing to review the situation further.
The final level is the federal court. This is where the case will go if the petitioner does not agree with the decision made by the Appeals Council. This is a lawsuit filed to help seek the benefits the disabled party needs.
During the appeals process, it is important to have legal counsel to help guide through the process, ensure all paperwork is filled out correctly and accurately, and present the case in a strong manner. This can be the difference between being denied again and receiving benefits. Qualified representation is imperative for many individuals who have been injured and are unable to work.
At Peterson & Associates, P.C., our Kansas City Social Security disability lawyers have the extensive experience to help clients navigate this process. If you have been denied benefits, an appeal must be filed within 60 days or you may lose your eligibility. Put tenacious and prepared advocacy in your corner. Our firm can help you plan your initial claim and stand by your side throughout every level of the appeals process, seeking the favorable results you desire.
Contact our firm today if you have been denied Social Security disability benefits and need legal assistance.