Social Security Disability Appeals

Receiving a denial notice after applying for social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits can be very frustrating. It is likely that you have waited months to hear from the Social Security Administration (SSA), and finding out that you have been denied the benefits that you need to pay your bills can be heartbreaking. However, you do have options if your SSDI benefit application has been denied.

Frequency of SSDI Denials

It takes months for an applicant to receive a response from the SSA, and people who receive a denial of benefits often feel that they went through the difficult process for nothing. However, denials are common after the initial application. It is estimated that 70 percent of all initial applications for SSDI benefits result in a denial.

Applicants who receive a denial notice from the SSA have the option to appeal the decision. The notice will detail the reason for denial, and applicants can review this information with an attorney in order to facilitate the appeal planning process. Understanding why an initial application was denied lets an applicant know what they can do differently to get the benefits that they need.

The most common reason for a denial of benefits is a lack of proof of disability. Every applicant must provide the SSA with detailed information related to their disability. This includes a date of diagnosis, records of each visit related to the condition, lists of medications taken for the condition and notes related to the symptoms suffered as a result of the disability.

How Long Do Appeals Take?

Appealing a denial may require applicants to go through several different appeal methods before receiving an approval or exhausting their options. The appeal process varies by state. The first step in many states, like Maryland, is to file a Request for Reconsideration. The Disability Determination Service (DDS) in the applicant’s state will have a case examiner and medical consultant review the case again. The time it takes to receive a decision after this appeal varies according to the caseload of the people assigned to the case. In other states, like Pennsylvania, after the initial denial the next step is to appeal and file a Request for Hearing.

If the application or Request for Consideration is denied, the next step in the appeals process is to request a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ). It may take up to a year for a hearing to be scheduled. The ALJ is required by law to make a new and complete review of your case. With the correct presentation and gathering of medical evidence, it is much more likely that a claim will be successful.

Having a denial upheld means that the applicant can appeal the decision with the federal court, but going to this level of appeals often takes a year or more. Some people have waited several years to have their case heard on this level. It is important to work with any attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable every step of the way – including in federal court.

Getting Help with Your Appeal

The complicated application process and the high rate of denials may make you question your decision to apply for SSDI benefits. However, you should be receiving the benefits that you worked for prior to suffering from a disability. I have ten years of experience in social security cases and appeals. Contact me today to get started on your case.

Ruth F. Kolb, Esquire has been practicing social security disability law since 2003 handling all levels of representation from initial claims through all stages of appeal.