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The Appeals Process

Posted by Louis B. Lusk | Mar 27, 2013 | 0 Comments

The Appeals Process

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Social Security Income (SSI) are both handled by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Applying for social security benefits can be difficult and time consuming. Up to 60% of applications are denied the first time they are received. Understanding how to file for an appeal is very important as many cases are subsequently won on appeals. If you plan to file an appeal, it is important to keep in mind that you only have sixty days, from receipt of the denial notice, to ask for an appeal. This time frame applies to every point in the appeal process. If you miss the deadline, there is a possibility you will lose any ability to have your case reviewed, meaning you will be stuck with your denial of benefits. In rare cases, an extension is allowed. To get an extension, in addition to your paperwork, you must include an explanation for your late submittal and it is up to the office whether they will extend the time limit and therefore review your case. The first step in applying for an appeal is to ask for a reconsideration determination. At this point, a new person would review the information you have already provided and decide the case again. If this second person still chooses to deny your claim, the second step is to ask for a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge, using specified forms. Hearings are very similar to other court cases in that you should bring any witness you have to help prove your cases and it is possible that the court may ask for specific witness to be available, such as your doctor. You also may be asked questions directly and anyone questioned is under oath. You will be notified of your hearing date at least twenty days before the hearing. The SSA has many offices and usually schedules hearings within 75 miles of your home, however, there are times when it that is not possible. If travel may be an issue, it is important to contact the SSA as soon as possible to make other arrangements. In some cases video conferencing is available as well as some travel reimbursement. You may also ask for the hearing to go on with you in attendance, however, the judge may deny that request. If you are denied benefits at the hearing, the third step in the appeal process is a review by the Appeal Council. The Appeals Council reviews every timely case it receives. The Council reviews all information from the hearing as well as any additional information you provide. Then it may (1) deny it, (2) review the case itself or (3) send it to an Administrative Law judge to review it. Once a decision is a made, you should receive a letter in the mail. If you disagree with the Appeals Council's decision, or if the Appeals Council decides not to review your case, you then have one more way to have your case reviewed. The fourth, and final, appeals option is to file a civil case in a federal district court. If you bring a civil action seeking judicial review of the Social Security Administration's final decision, their staff will prepare the record of the claim for filing with the Court. This includes all the documents and evidence SSA relied upon in making the decision or determination. It will be your responsibility to provide copies of the complaint and summons to the SSA and there is fee for filing a civil action in Federal court. An experienced social security attorney can help you bring your best case forward. Having an attorney during the appeals process, especially when you did not have one for the initial application, can be very helpful at this point because he or she may be able to point out information to add that you may not have realized was important or worth noting. With a complicated set of rules and instructions and strict deadlines and, an attorney can help you keep everything on track for your case. Contact an experienced social security attorney today to discuss your claim. See Related Blog Posts: Questions to Expect at Your Social Security Hearing Top Four Reasons SSD Claims Are Denied

About the Author

Louis B. Lusk

About Louis B. Lusk – Disability Attorney Attorney Louis B. Lusk has helped thousands of disabled individuals recover Social Security disability and SSI disability benefits.  He is an active member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimant's Representatives (NOSSCR), an organizat...

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