Have you recently had a Social Security disability claim denied? Did Social Security deny you new benefits? Or did they terminate existing benefits because they determined that your condition had improved? These decisions are often made at the field level and without much in the way of a thorough review and examination.
It’s very possible that your claim was denied based on erroneous beliefs and assumptions. You have the right to correct that mistake through an appeal. There are four possible ways to appeal a disability denial. They go in order, so you should start with the first option and work your way up.
Reconsideration request. The first step is to contact your local Social Security field office and ask for a reconsideration. During the reconsideration, your claim will be reviewed by a panel that includes a medical expert. None of the reviewers from your first claim are involved in the reconsideration, so it’s very possible that this step could provide a different outcome. If the claim is denied again, you will receive a denial letter, much like you did the first time.
ALJ hearing. The second step is a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. In some states, the reconsideration is skipped altogether and all appeals go straight to this step. An ALJ is a local attorney who specializes in hearing social security appeals cases. You present your case and why your denial should be overturned.
Much of the outcome simply depends on the judge that you get. Some judges approve almost every appeal. Others approve very few. You may want to hire a social security disability attorney like one from Delay Curran Thompson Pontarolo & Walker P.S. at this point to help you navigate the process and present your case.
Appeals council. If the ALJ denies your appeal, you still have a couple more options. The next step is the appeals council. The council doesn’t review every appeal that is filed. Rather, it pulls appeals randomly and then either approves or denies them. Generally, there must have been an obvious error for the appeals council to overturn a denial at the ALJ level. They usually don’t overturn denials simply because they disagree with the decision.
Federal court. The final option is to file a lawsuit in federal court. Federal court does overturn denials. However, the process can be time-consuming and expensive. It’s not uncommon for a Social Security disability lawsuit to take years before it’s resolved. A federal court suit is argued in front of a judge with no jury present.
The judge can look at any aspect of the appeal that he or she desires. Judges sometimes overturn denials at this level if they feel that the previous panels and judges misinterpreted the medical guidance, or if there was some administrative or procedural error.
If you have been denied, you may want to start by consulting with an attorney. They can advise you of the best route to take so you can make the most of your appeal options.