If you are unable to maintain full time, substantial employment due to a disability then you should be receiving disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. It’s getting these benefits that can sometimes be a long difficult process. Obtaining disability benefits can take years and many people are unaware that an initial denial is not the end of the road. That they should appeal.
Every year millions of people file initial applications for disability benefits. Approximately 74% percent of those initial applications are denied. This does not mean that those people are not entitled to disability benefits. Many denials at the initial stage occur because of technical issues with the application that could be easily fixed through the appeal process and with the assistance of any attorney.
Unfortunately, less than half of those whose initial applications are denied, appeal the denial and move on to the reconsideration stage. Once you receive a denial you have 60 days to appeal the decision. Appealing does not cost any money and it sends your application to the state Disability Determination Services (“DDS”) for review. This is a second chance for your application to be approved and DDS will look at any new medical records you may have before they make a decision. If you have an attorney representing you, your attorney will even file the appeal for you.
If you are denied at the reconsideration stage, don’t stop there. Again, you have 60 days to appeal and at this stage, you can ask for an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) with the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (“ODAR”) to review your application. Your attorney will do the appeal for you and will gather all of your medical records. Those medical records will be sent to the Judge and are essential to getting your application approved. You will then have a hearing before the ALJ and with the assistance of your attorney you will be able to illustrate to the ALJ how your disability prevents you from working. It’s at this stage that many people are approved and receive their disability benefits.
If your application is denied by the ALJ you can still appeal to the Appeals Council and even on to Federal Court. It is definitely worth discussing with your attorney whether your application is one that should be appealed further. Many people are approved at the Federal Court level.
If your disability prevents you from working and you have been denied disability benefits, contact an attorney for help appealing your case, it is absolutely worth it to receive the benefits you are entitled to.