If you are no longer able to work because of an injury, a chronic illness or some other condition, you are no doubt worried about how you and your family will make ends meet. Social Security Disability Insurance benefits could be a lifeline for your financial needs.
There’s good news and bad news here. First, the bad news: The Social Security Administration turns down most applicants for SSD benefits, at least on the applicant’s first attempt. The Social Security Administration’s own analysis has shown that, in some years, as many as 80% of first-time applicants are rejected.
The good news is that the Social Security Administration has a well-developed system for applicants to appeal decisions about their cases. There are four levels of review for the process:
- Reconsideration: After you have applied for Social Security Disability benefits, the Social Security Administration makes its initial determination of whether you qualify for the program. If you disagree with the initial determination, you can request a reconsideration. If, for example, a doctor determined your illness was insufficiently severe, you may request a medical reconsideration.
- Administrative hearing: After the reconsideration, if you are still unsatisfied with the result, you may request a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. You may be able to submit new evidence and offer new arguments.
- Review by an Appeals Council: The next step, if you are unhappy with the result of your hearing, is to request a review by an Appeals Council.
- Federal court: Finally, if you have gone through all the steps above and you are still unsatisfied with your results, you may be able to appeal the Social Security Administration’s decision in federal court.
Many disabled people ultimately have their applications approved after taking advantage of the appeals system, but it can be a long, slow and frustrating process. Fortunately, they don’t have to go through it alone. The help of an attorney with experience in Social Security Disability can be invaluable at any stage in the application process, and is essential to appeals.