The Social Security disability benefit program is for people who can no longer work due to a medical condition. The disability must be either terminal or expected to last one year or more. There is a list of qualifications that must be met at both federal and state levels before a determination of benefits is made. If the determination results in a denial of disability benefits, you have the right to file an appeal.
How Do I Appeal a Disability Benefit Determination?
Within 60 days of receipt of your denial letter, you must request an appeal online or in writing. Along with a statement that you are appealing the decision, you will also include any new information regarding your medical condition.
How Does the Appeals Process Work?
During an appeal, your claim may be presented to a new person who has not yet been involved with your claim. This person looks at the original information you presented as well as any changes in your condition. This is called a reconsideration.
If reconsideration still results in denial you have the right to request a hearing. Your hearing takes place with an administrative law judge. The judge will ask questions of you and any witnesses you present. You will also have the opportunity to personally question the witnesses. You may want to consult with a disability attorney prior to a hearing. The attorney will act as your representative; this is particularly helpful if your impairment is severe enough to prevent you from following the various steps of a hearing procedure on your own.
A decision of denial at a hearing is not the end of the process if you believe you meet the criteria to receive Social Security disability. You may ask the Appeals Council to review your case. The Appeals Council will take all claim information into consideration. At that point the Council could do one of three things: deny your request to review the appeal, have your case returned to an administrative law judge or make their own determination of your case.
You can choose to take your case to the federal court level if the Council denies either your review request or your claim–this is a final appeal. A disability attorney is best qualified to handle this type of lawsuit as the correct procedure must be followed and the process can be lengthy.