The Social Security Administration (SSA) is notoriously strict when it comes to awarding Social Security Disability (SSD). Though the numbers vary from region to region and year to year, the vast majority of applications for SSD are turned down. The SSA itself says that from 2001-2010, it approved benefits on the initial application just 28 percent of the time.
Appealing a denied SSDI claim in Franklin County
If your application for SSD benefits was denied, you should not give up. Though some applicants do not meet the legal standard for disability to qualify for benefits, many other applicants were wrongly rejected. This happens for a variety of reasons, but often because the application did not include the full amount of evidence of the applicant’s disability. Incomplete medical records and other missing evidence can fail to give the person reviewing your application the full picture of how your injury, illness or chronic condition is affecting your ability to work.
Fortunately, the SSA gives you several chances to appeal. Here are those steps:
- Reconsideration. After your application is rejected, you have the right to request a reconsideration by another person. You have the chance to present additional evidence, and the new person will also review the original evidence. In most cases, you do not need to attend a hearing or meeting.
- Hearing. If reconsideration does not result in approval, you can request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). This is similar to a trial, with you and expert witnesses having the chance to testify about your condition. Your attorney will also have the chance to ask questions of the witnesses. Afterward, the ALJ will issue a ruling granting or denying you SSDI benefits.
- Appeals Council. If you disagree with the ALJ’s decision, you can request an appeal to the SSA’s Appeals Council. However, the Appeals Council may decide not to hear your appeal. If it agrees an appeal is warranted, the Council can either hear the case itself or send your case back to the ALJ level.
- Federal court. Finally, if the ALJ ruled against you and the Appeals Council declined to review your claim, you can file a lawsuit in federal court.
This process can take time and involve a huge amount of confusing paperwork and case preparation. To avoid mistakes and unnecessary delays, consider working with an experienced attorney who regularly handles SSD appeals. A lawyer who understands SSD law and the realities of the process will give you the best chance of a positive outcome.