A disability claim can be appealed once, twice, even three times
The Social Security Disability appeal process involves several levels of appeal for denied disability claims.
With each disability application that is filed, there are usually four levels of appeal that can be filed. In order, those are the reconsideration appeal (filed after an SSD or SSI application has been denied), the disability hearing appeal (filed after a reconsideration has been denied), the appeals council appeal (filed after a person has been turned down by a judge at a hearing), and federal district court (which is an action that is taken after a claim has been denied by the appeals council.
All of these appeals can be utilized by a claimant. However, since a person can file new disability applications and start the process over again, there is potentially no limit to how many appeals may be filed.
If your initial disability claim is denied, you can file a reconsideration appeal if you disagree with your denial. This is known as a request for reconsideration.
If your reconsideration appeal is denied (and the chances are good it will be), then you can submit a request for a disability hearing.
What is the likelihood of having your reconsideration approved? It varies by year and by state. In some states, the odds of being approved for disability on a reconsideration appeal are much lower than in other states. Typically, however, you can expect a 10 to 15 percent chance of winning disability on a reconsideration.
Approval statistical data suggests an average of 90% of reconsideration appeals end with a denial. Frankly, this appeal is just a necessary step to the most winning level of the Social Security Disability process, the Request for an Administrative Law Judge hearing (the disability hearing).
However, your disability can be denied at your disability hearing, after which you can appeal the judge's decision with a Request for Appeals Council Review.
Most disability applicants file a new disability claim at this time; however some will take their disability claim to Federal Court if they are denied at the Appeals Council.
However, not all representatives handle claims at this level. Also, this is the level at which an unrepresented claimant cannot proceed unrepresented. It is also the level at which a disability representative must be an attorney.
In order to avail yourself of the protections provided by the Social Security appeal process, you must file your appeals timely. You have sixty days to appeal your disability claim from the date of your denial notice. Social Security gives you an extra five days for mailing, so you have 65 days total to file your appeal.
You can file it online or you can request paper forms. If you are not comfortable filing your appeal on your own, you should consider the services of a Social Security representative or attorney. You will not have to pay them a fee unless they win your disability case.
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
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