Social Security requires you to follow certain appeal steps if you are denied Social Security benefits. If you are denied Social Security Disability benefits or SSI benefits, you need to appeal within two months, as described by the denial letters. You are generally not allowed to miss an appeal deadline or skip any of these appeal steps.
The appeal steps in a Social Security disability benefits claim are: 1. Application 2. Reconsideration 3. Hearing 4. Appeals Council
The Social Security disability application starts your claim. Your Social Security attorney can help you apply for Social Security benefits. Once you apply, you need to make sure that Social Security has all the updated information about your (1) medical treatment, (2) past work, and (3) day-to-day medical limitations. At the Social Security application level, Social Security contracts with a state agency, the Disability Determination Services, to evaluate your medical records and other information. They do this behind closed doors. Medical professionals who have never met you will decide whether you are disabled at the application level. The best way to inform these medical professionals about your particular medical limitations is getting your treating physician’s input into the process. Your Social Security disability lawyers can explain this further.
The Social Security disability request for reconsideration is your appeal of a Social Security application denial. Your attorney can help you appeal Social Security denials using secure internet sites. If you are unrepresented, make sure that you do not miss an appeal while trying to hire an attorney. You can appeal your Social Security benefits application denial on your own if necessary. The goal is avoiding having to start over. Pay close attention to the application appeal deadline to make sure that you get your appeal in on time, either on your own or with the help of a law firm.
The Social Security disability hearing is a meeting with a Federal Administrative Law Judge who will review your disability determinations and make his or her own decision about your ability to work. Social Security can make you wait for a hearing for over a year or more due to the large number of people who want a Social Security hearing. Once you get your hearing notice, you will know the time and place of your meeting with your judge.
At your Social Security hearing, you will likely have a vocational, and sometimes a medical, expert testifying about you. Your Social Security lawyer will be able to cross-examine them. Your medical records are a crucial part of your Social Security hearing. Incomplete medical records can cause you to be denied at a hearing.
If you are denied at the Social Security hearing, you can appeal to the Appeals Council. You generally have to wait until your appeal at the Appeals Council is over before you can file a new claim for Social Security benefits. It is good to get legal advice about whether to appeal or simply refile a new Social Security benefits claim in response to a hearing denial. You generally, as of a recent change in Social Security procedure, can only do one or the other at one time. Your choices depend on your situation.
If your Social Security benefits denial does not make sense, you are not alone. It is best to work when you’re healthy, get better when you aren’t, and consider Social Security disability benefits when your health will keep you from working full-time for a year or more. If you are denied Social Security disability benefits, appealing with professional legal help may be your best option.