When you have been denied Social Security Disability benefits, your disability lawyers in Atlanta GA will explain that you have four options for appealing this decision. When you receive a denial, the first thing that you are required to do in most states is request a reconsideration of the case. This, however, varies by state and it is very important to follow the instructions in your denial of benefits letter so that you follow the correct procedures. If you are denied again, there are three additional options to appeal the decision.
Understanding the Request for Reconsideration
Your disability lawyers in Atlanta GA will explain that you may be denied initial benefits or from receiving continued benefits under the Social Security disability program. If you are denied for either reason, you have the right to request a reconsideration of the case.
Reconsideration for Initial Claim
If you apply for benefits and are denied, you will receive a notification in the mail stating that you have the right to appeal this decision. It is very important that you make contact with the local Social Security Administration (SSA) office to begin your appeal. There is a deadline that must be met to make the appeal. Once your appeal is received, it will be reviewed by a medical consultant that was not involved in the initial decision. This process takes place at the Disability Determination Services (DDS) level. At this level, only about 5 to 10 percent of all claims are approved after initially being denied. If your claim is denied again, your disability lawyers in Atlanta GA will explain, you will be notified of the denial. At this point, you have the ability to take your case to the next level of appeal and have your case heard by an Administrative Judge.
Reconsideration for Continuing Claims
The SSA randomly conducts Continuing Disability Reviews (CDR) to determine if you are still qualify for disability benefits. If it is determined that you no longer qualify for these benefits, you will receive a letter of discontinuation. At this point, you have the right to request reconsideration for continuing benefits. Similar to appealing an initial claim, your disability lawyers in Atlanta GA will explain, your case will be reviewed by an independent examiner. However, there will be heavy consideration placed on medical records from your current doctor that is treating the condition that has qualified you as disabled. If you are still denied benefits at this point, you have the same rights to take your case before an Administrative Judge for review.
Administrative Judge Hearings
If your claim for initial or continuing disability benefits has been denied during the reconsideration phase of your case, you have the right to have your case heard by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). You must file an appeal with an ALJ within 60 days of receiving your denial letter. An ALJ works for the Social Security Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. Their main responsibility is reviewing disability cases that have been denied. In some cases they may handle other legal issues for the SSA, but generally they only review disability cases. As your disability lawyers in Atlanta GA will most likely tell you, nearly 70 percent of all cases that reach this point will be approved. However, if your case is denied, you still have the ability to appeal the decision. The Appeals Council The next step in the appeal process is to file a request for review with the Appeals Council. It should be noted that the Appeals Council generally only accepts about two percent of all cases that apply. They can decline your review request for any reason, including filing late or not submitting enough documentation. The Appeals Council only looks for mistakes that could have been made by the ALJ in ruling on your case. They are only there to make sure that nothing illegal occurred while your case was being reviewed. While most people find absolutely no success in this level of appeal, it is a necessary requirement to complete if you wish to take your case to the final step of appeals.
Suing for Benefits in Federal Court
If you have exhausted all other levels of appeal and you have still been denied benefits, you have one last chance to win your case. You may sue the SSA for benefits in Federal Court. People that opt for this method are relying on the opinions of a jury to win their case. Unlike taking the case before an ALJ, your case will go before the court just like a regular case and a decision is given by a jury and then approved by a judge. There are no guarantees that the jury will award in your favor. It is very rare for a case to go this far in the appeals process. According to statistics, it is less than one percent of all cases that are appealed make it this far. This is because taking your case to Federal Court is very expensive and can take several years to complete. You will need to be represented by an attorney to appeal at this level and be prepared for an extensive fight.
Speak to Disability Lawyers in Atlanta GA About Your Case Today
Applying for Social Security Disability can be a complicated process. Once you have applied, you face a 70 percent chance of being initially denied benefits. This high amount of denials is standard operating procedure by the SSA in an effort to deter people from claiming benefits. If you are facing an appeal for benefits, or if you need to start the application process, you are encouraged to speak with one of the disability attorneys at the Law Office of Louis B. Lusk. Our attorneys have the knowledge and experience to help you with your disability case. We are confident that we will help you gain an approval for disability benefits. If you need help with your Social Security Disability Case, call 404.250.7000 and speak with qualified disability lawyers in Atlanta GA today.