The Social Security appeals process was created to make sure that a disability claim has every chance of success. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, the process can be complicated, long, frustrating and financially devastating.
Before we go any further, it’s best to point out that it is always a good idea to consult with an attorney if you’ve been denied benefits. That being said, it’s also good to know how the process works and what you can expect after you’ve received your first denial.
Your Initial Denial Letter – Filing for Reconsideration
After filing for disability benefits, chances are you will receive a letter denying your entitlement to benefits. All that really means is that your physical or mental impairment did not show up on the Social Security Administration’s list of impairments, so you must prove that your condition is also severe enough to be declared disabled. You have 60 days from the date of the notice letter to appeal the decision. You can appeal the first denial be either calling the Social Security Administration and requesting a reconsideration, or you can file a form requesting a reconsideration of your claim.
Truly, all a reconsideration appeal amounts to is your claim being reviewed by another, separate claims reviewer. Usually, more than 80% of claims are denied at this level.
After the Reconsideration – Requesting a Hearing
After you receive your second denial letter, you will have an additional 60 days to file for another appeal. At this time, you will need to request a disability hearing so an administrative law judge will actually be able to decide whether or not you are truly disabled. The hearing will last between thirty minutes and one hour, and all of the medical evidence will be considered. It is certainly best to have an experienced disability lawyer present when going before the judge.