You’ve already had to deal with a disabling medical condition and devastating loss of income. Then you went through the entire application process to get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits to help you through a difficult time. But then you get a letter from the Social Security Administration (Social Security) telling you they denied your benefit claim. It doesn’t help to know that you are not alone. In fact, more than 50% of first-time applications are denied. Now you and your disability lawyer need to consider your next step – an appeal. How will your SSDI appeal be handled?
#1. Request for Reconsideration
The first stage of your SSDI appeal involves submitting a Request for Reconsideration (Form SSA-561) to Social Security. Suppose Social Security denied your claim for medical reasons. In that case, you might also need to submit a Disability Report – Appeal (Form SSA-3441) and an Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration (Form SSA-827).
If you do not have an attorney yet, this is the time to do so. The application process was difficult, but the four stages of your SSDI appeal will be even more challenging.
You can file either in person, by mail, or online.
Social Security will determine your request for reconsideration. You and your attorney might disagree with the decision, maybe because of the amount awarded or because your claim was denied again. You can then take your SSDI appeal to the next stage.
#2. Administrative Law Judge Hearing
If your SSDI appeal reaches this level, an administrative law judge who has not participated in decision-making on your case will hold a hearing. Sometimes hearings are held:
- by video,
- in person,
- at a Social Security hearing site, or
- from a location you prefer.
Due to COVID-19, most offices are closed to in-person visits, so remote hearings are most common right now.
As with the request for reconsideration, you can continue your SSDI appeal if you disagree with the judge’s decision.
#3. Appeals Council
The third stage of your appeal involves asking the Appeals Council to review your request for benefits. The Council considers your application and the decisions made on the first two steps of your SSDI appeal.
Sometimes the Council will determine your case or return your case to the administrative law judge for review. If you disagree with the Council’s decision, there’s one stage left in an SSDI appeal.
#4. Federal Court Review.
This challenging stage involves filing a petition in a United States District Court. A federal judge will review your petition and consider all the evidence before making a decision. Generally, no new evidence is presented. Instead, the judge considers transcripts of your previous hearings and your case records. The judge may decide to send your case back to Social Security, sometimes because of procedural errors. Winning at the federal level does not necessarily mean you will be awarded benefits. However, you and your attorney may decide it’s worth filing in federal court as the final stage of your SSDI appeal.
Your SSDI Appeal Will Be Challenging. We Can Help.
At all stages of your SSDI appeal, you must request your appeal within a certain deadline. Also, you have to know what kind of evidence to present to support your claim. We strongly recommend that anyone facing an appeal contact an experienced disability lawyer to help with both application and appeal.
Social Security Administration rules and regulations are not easy to understand. It can help to have someone on your side. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Martin Taller have more than 50 years’ experience helping clients like you. For a free consultation, call us at 714-385-8100. Though our office is located in Anaheim, we assist clients throughout Southern California.