Getting a denial notice from the Social Security Administration (SSA) can be frustrating. It is even worse if you are in desperate need of the assistance. The good news is that, if you do not delay, then you can appeal SSA’s decision. It is important to pay attention to any important deadlines in SSA’s notice. If you are unable to find the deadlines in the notice or are unsure, then it is best to contact a social security disability lawyer as soon as possible.
There are three levels of appeals for a Social Security denial notice, they are: reconsideration, hearing, review by appeals council, and Federal Court review. In addition, at any point you can choose to reapply for Social Security Disability Insurance. If you received your first denial notice from SSA, then you are on the reconsideration level. A request for reconsideration can be filed online and involves a review of your entire application. You can include any additional information with the request for reconsideration like new medical evidence, new letters from your doctor, and any changes in your condition.
If your request for reconsideration is denied, then you move onto a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ). When you request a hearing you can also submit any new evidence you may have. Remember that each step of the appeals process takes some time and, as a result, you may have visited your doctor and changed your treatment plan. It is important to include this information when you request a hearing. During the hearing, the ALJ will question you or your representative. You are allowed to bring witnesses to the hearing and, if you do, the ALJ will question them as well. Remember to go to your hearing. If the hearing date does not work for you, then you must let SSA know in writing as soon as possible. SSA may not require your presence or they may be able to change the date or time of your hearing.
If the ALJ does not rule in your favor at the hearing, then the next step is to request a review by the Appeal’s Council. The Appeal’s Council will either review your case or deny your case outright. If they decide to review your case, then your presence may not be necessary at a hearing. Otherwise, you may have to appear in front of another ALJ. If the Appeals Council denies your request for review or makes a decision that is not in your favor, you will receive a letter detailing why exactly they are denying your benefits. Keep this letter because it may be useful at the final level of appeal.
The final level of appeal for your case is only available if you have exhausted all three prior levels. An appeal to federal court may allow you to get benefits, but it can also be a long, complex process. It is best to consult a social security disability lawyer if you reach this point so they can provide advice on how to correctly file the lawsuit.