How to Make the Disability Appeals Process Work for You

Disability appeals process

You’ve waited months for a determination to be made on your disability claim, only to receive a denial letter. You’re shocked and disappointed, and you probably wonder, “What now?” This is where the disability appeals process comes in.

Scenarios like this are not uncommon for many Americans. In fact, the majority of people who apply for benefits will be denied after their initial application. But disabled applicants shouldn’t lose hope. You still have a chance to appeal the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) decision. The disability appeals process can help you secure the financial support you deserve.

Who Qualifies for the Disability Appeals Process?

Virtuality anyone who applies for disability benefits has the opportunity to appeal a unfavorable outcome. But before you try to overturn the administrations decision, double-check if your medical condition meets the requirements outlined by the SSA. Here’s what they will be looking for to determine your eligibility during the disability appeals process:

  • Your condition is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death
  • You’re unable to hold “substantial gainful activity”

If your condition meets this criteria, you’re still not guaranteed benefits. But if you do meet these requirements, then you should proceed with the appeals process.

Four Levels In the Disability Appeals Process

Before you appeal, know what you’re in for. The appeals process itself consists of three to four levels. You could get approved at any one of these levels, but your chances of getting approved get smaller and smaller the further you go in the process.

Here’s a brief breakdown of what you could expect at each level:

  • Level 1 – All individuals looking to appeal should start and submit a reconsideration within 60 days of receiving their notice of denial. A reconsideration is defined as a total review of your claim by someone who wasn’t originally involved. This person will look at all of the original evidence, plus any new evidence, and decide if the original decision should be overturned.
  • Level 2 – If your reconsideration is denied, you have 60 days to request for a hearing in front of a administrative law judge. Depending upon where you live, the hearing may be handled in person or through a video conference. The judge will likely as you about your condition and if you have any new evidence to submit. When appeals get to this level it can be crucial to have a disability advocate on your side.
  • Level 3 – The next level of the appeals process is having your claim reviewed by the Appeals Council. The council will look at the Administrative Law Judges verdict and determine if an errors can be found. At this level they can request you receive a new hearing or can side with the judges original decision and deny your benefits.
  • Level 4 – The last level of appeals is having you claim heard by a federal judge. It’s a necessity to retain legal aid if you make it this far in appeals. There will not be a jury present at this level, but you will be required to present your case to the judge. The judge will check for any errors that may have occurred during the process and make a determination on your eligibility.

Qualifying for Legal Assistance With the Disability Appeals Process

The disability appeals process is full of ups and downs. That’s why many people turn to legal assistance from the start. An attorney or advocate may be able to get you approved after you’ve been denied. Legal aid can get you more money; and get you paid sooner than you would applying on your own. Attorneys and advocates are able to collect medical documentation that proves your claim, contact the SSA on your behalf, and make sure deadlines are met. The best way to ensure you win benefits from the disability appeals process? Speak to an attorney first!

To see if you may qualify for legal assistance during the disability appeals process, click the button below now.

Get Your Free Benefits Evaluation