Baltimore Social Security Disability Lawyers
Appealing a Denial
When applying for Social Security disability benefits, it is fairly common for people to have their initial request denied. And while the prospect of taking the time to go through the appeals process may seem daunting, those who proceed with the process have a higher chance of getting approved for benefits. In fact, a claimant’s best chance at winning disability benefits is to get his or her case at a hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ).
If the Social Security Administration denies your claim by saying that you are not eligible for benefits, that your benefits are coming to an end or that your payment amounts will change, you will receive a letter explaining the details surrounding the decision. Before you initiate the appeals process, it is in your best interest to consider your situation and how willing you are to invest a significant amount of time and energy into the appeals process. It is also highly recommended that you consult with an experienced Baltimore Social Security disability lawyer who can help navigate the complex appeals process and protect your rights.
Questions to consider before appealing a denial of disability benefits:
- Are you physically and mentally able to complete the required paperwork?
- Are you willing to commit a significant amount of time to the appeals process?
- Did Social Security have a valid reason for denying your benefits?
- How severe are your impairments?
- Is your impairment expected to last more than a year?
- How old are you?
- What is your level of education?
- What is your work experience?
- Is it in your best interest to appeal?
Four Levels of the Appeals Process
- Request for ReconsiderationReconsideration of an Original Claim – This involves a complete review of your original claim. It is performed by a medical consultant and examiner who were not part of the initial decision and takes place at the Disability Determination Services (DDS) level. Any claims examiners and medical consultants who played a role in denying your initial claim will have no part in deciding the outcome of your reconsideration claim. DDS grants five to 10% of reconsideration claims.Reconsideration of a Continuing Disability Claim – Once you start to receive your disability benefits, a continuing disability review (CDR) will periodically re-examine your case. The SSA may terminate you benefits for the following reasons:
- It has been determined that your condition has improved and you are able to return to work
- You have failed to cooperate in the CDR process. To appeal the termination, you must go before a disability hearing officer and request a reconsideration of a CDR. It will receive a second review by different medical consultant and examiner who may decide to reverse the previous decision and terminate your benefits.
- Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) HearingIf your request for reconsideration is denied and you want to continue the appeals process, you must request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) within 60 days from the receipt of your denial.Most of the work that ALJs do involve either upholding or overturning decisions to deny or terminate disability benefits. Of the appeals that ALJs review, they grant approximately 67% of the claims.
- Appeals CouncilIf your hearing before the ALJ is unsuccessful, you can request that the Appeals Council review your case, although this is not an ideal scenario. The Appeals Council randomly selects cases to review and if your claim is filed late, you request a dismissal or you die, the Appeals Council may dismiss the case without even reviewing it, unless one of the following is true:- There was an abuse of discretion, or an error of law by the ALJ.
- There is not enough substantial evidence to support the ALJs decision.
- A broad policy or procedural issue comes up in the case.The chance of winning an appeal at this level is approximately two to three percent.
- Federal Court ReviewAt this point, it is highly recommended that you have legal representation, if you not already done so. Filing a lawsuit in U.S. District Court can be a complex, time-consuming process. Disability cases are heard before a judge only. The judge reviews the case primarily for legal errors, but many rule on factual questions as well.While there is a fairly good chance you could win your appeal in federal court, it could take years to reach that level of the appeals process. Less than one percent of disability claimants file a lawsuit with the federal court.
Baltimore Social Security Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Help Clients Through Every Phase of the Social Security Disability Claims Process
If your initial request for Social Security disability benefits has been denied, the experienced Baltimore Social Security lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton can help. We will closely examine your case in order to determine the best possible course of action. We will work hard to streamline the process and secure the Social Security disability benefits you deserve. For a free consultation, call us at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.