Just applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits can make your head spin. What if you are one of the 60 to 70% of new applicants whose request is denied? The appeal process may take you from the Social Security Administration (SSA) to a court. It’s important to know all your options, especially what happens when a federal court reviews an SSDI claim, before deciding to appeal.
Appealing an SSDI Claim: First Steps
If you receive a letter from the SSA denying your claim, read it carefully and forward a copy to your attorney. The letter generally holds clues about why the SSA denied your claim. This information lets you know what your next steps should be.
First, you may file a Request for Reconsideration. If denied again, you can ask an administrative law judge (ALJ) to hear your case. Your case may be rejected again, and you can ask the Appeals Council to hear your claim. The Appeals Council may deny your claim or even refuse to hear it.
If so, it may be time to consider moving to the final level of appeal.
At the Federal Court Level
After exhausting all other appeals, you may have to file a civil action in a federal court called the United States District Court. Your lawyer will choose the correct U. S. District Court based on where you live. In the civil action, you essentially will be suing the Commissioner of Social Security. After filing your lawsuit, the case usually proceeds as follows:
- A federal judge will review your claim for disability benefits. The judge will be looking for any errors that the SSA may have made when it rejected your application.
- The SSA’s attorney may argue that the rejection was correct, stating the reasons for the denial.
- Your attorney will argue that you are entitled to SSDI benefits. Typically, you may support your case with evidence of your medical condition or any proof that the SSA erred in denying your benefits.
As the federal court reviews your SSDI claim, the judge will review the arguments and evidence presented by both sides. Current laws and SSA procedures will also play an important part in helping the judge decide. Generally, the judge will either approve your claim or send it back to the SSA for further consideration.
However, federal court reviews do not consider any new evidence about your disability. In fact, the court does not determine whether or not you are disabled. Instead, the court generally will consider:
- Whether the ALJ made a mistake in denying your SSDI claim; and
- Whether the SSA followed proper procedures in determining your disability status.
Do You Need a Federal Court Review of Your SSDI Claim?
If your application for SSDI benefits has been denied, you are not alone. You may be able to appeal that denial, all the way to federal court if necessary. However, you need help from an experienced lawyer.
At The Law Offices of Martin Taller, your case receives the attention and care of experienced Social Security Disability attorneys.
For your free consultation, call us at 714-385-8100. We are located in Anaheim, but we assist clients throughout Southern California.