Most people who apply for Social Security Disability benefits for the first time see their request denied. Many might think the case is over and they will need to think of other ways to address their financial and medical needs.
Even if they are aware of the options to appeal the denied claim, they frequently make the mistake of thinking it is not worth it. Before accepting the denial and moving on, it is imperative to understand the four levels of appeal and what can be done to achieve a better result.
What are the four levels of appeal for a denied SSD claim?
After a claim has been denied, the applicant can first lodge an appeal through reconsideration. With reconsideration, the entire case is reassessed by someone who played no role in the case beforehand. The evidence can be analyzed with a fresh eye and if the applicant has new evidence, they can add it to the case.
A common reason for denial is that the Social Security Administration determines that the applicant does not have a qualifying condition. If that is the case, it will be sent to the Disability Determination Services to review it. When the appeal is over a non-medical factor, the local office will oversee it.
If the claim is again denied after reconsideration, the next option is a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. The ALJ will not have taken part in any aspect of the case before this. This person can approve the claim or again deny it.
The third option is having a hearing before the Appeals Council. With the Appeals Council, there is no guarantee that they will even agree to hear the case. If they do agree to review it, they can make a new decision or send it back to the ALJ. Finally, the last resort is a Federal Court review.
Many people who are eventually approved for disability benefits were denied at some point in the claim. There are many reasons why a claim could have been denied. Perhaps the medical information was insufficient, there was a simple clerical misstep or the Administrative Law Judge made an unfair determination. Exploring all options can be effective, but it is wise to have professional help.
SSD applicants do not need to simply accept a denied claim
Florida residents can improve their chances if they have professional assistance when seeking Social Security Disability benefits. This is true from the outset of the claim as the case is being prepared and all the evidence is being gathered and throughout the process – including the four levels of appeal.