It’s tempting to just give up. The day you get a letter denying your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim is hard and you may not know where to turn. However, you are entitled to appeal that rejection. In fact, many appeals are granted at some level.
Appealing a Denial
If your claim was denied, you are not alone. About two-thirds of first-time disability claims are denied. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) offer four levels of appeal that may increase the possibility your claim will be approved:
Request for Reconsideration. This step is fairly easy – submit Form SSA-561, which you can do online. Be careful, though – you only have 60 days to request your reconsideration. If your request is denied, you may be able to proceed to the next level.
Administrative Law Judge Hearing. We’ll talk more about this level later in this blog. However, if the administrative law judge (ALJ) denies your claim, you can go on to the third level of disability appeal.
Appeals Council. You can ask the Appeals Council to review your claim. And, if denied, you can move to the final step.
Federal Court Review. Filing a petition in the United States District Court is the final level of appeal.
Let’s look at what happens at a second level of appeal – the hearing.
The Disability Appeal Hearing
The following people typically appear at a disability appeal hearing:
- You, as the claimant;
- Your representative or attorney;
- The Administrative Law Judge;
- A hearing assistant who types of a record of the hearing;
- Expert witnesses hired by the SSA, if any.
Although this hearing is official, it is not quite as formal as trials held in a courtroom. The ALJ usually does not wear judge’s robes.
During the hearing, the ALJ will read a statement about your claim, then ask you some questions. Stay calm – the ALJ is just trying to understand the facts behind your claim. Answer clearly, truthfully, and completely.
Your attorney or representative will be able to speak on your behalf. He or she may also ask you some questions.
If there are any expert witnesses, they will testify now.
Finally, the ALJ may ask a few final questions before ending the hearing. It’s unlikely you will receive a decision at this time. In fact, it can take 3-4 weeks to receive a written decision.
It Helps to Have an Experienced Attorney at Your Side.
The application process is hard enough to do by yourself. Attending the disability appeal hearing alone is even more difficult.
You need someone on your side. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Martin Taller have more than 50 years’ experience. For a free consultation, call us at 714-385-8100. Though our office is located in Anaheim, we assist clients throughout Southern California.