Doing the SSDI Appeal Online
If your initial application for Social Security Disability insurance (SSDI) has been denied, your best option is, in just about every case, to file an appeal with your state disability determination services (DDS) agency. This first appeal is commonly known as a request for review or reconsideration, or a reconsideration appeal.
Nationwide, a staggering 81% of these first appeals are denied, due at least in part to the fact that the same agency (DDS) that denied the initial application is in charge of deciding the appeal'unless you have something new to add to the medical record, you're unlikely to get a better result the second time around.
Still, it makes more sense to file a reconsideration appeal with DDS than it does to file a brand new claim with disability (unless your initial claim was denied on a technicality; i.e., you made too much money at the time). Even if most SSDI appeals are unsuccessful, they are very important because they allow a claimant to move on to the second level of appeal: a hearing before an administrative law judge, who is twice as likely as a DDS disability examiner to approve a disability application.
Today disability applicants have the option of filling out their reconsideration appeal paperwork online, and this option is convenient to both the applicant and the social security administration. Appeals filed online are recorded immediately, and there is less chance of missing the 60-day deadline (all appeals must be filed within 60 days of receiving notice of denial or you will have no choice but to start over with a new claim). Filing online also saves the claimant the time and inconvenience (and gas money) involved in scheduling and attending an in-person meeting at the local SSA office.
Social Security encourages applicants to make use of the online filing process, because it allows their reps to spend more time processing claims and less time in one-on-one meetings with disability applicants. This is a major factor of consideration for the SSA, since there is a huge backlog of disability cases waiting to be processed in just about every state, and congressional budget cuts have actually decreased the number of social security workers available to process claims.
Of course, if something seems too good to be true'.Alas, while the online filing process is more convenient, filing an appeal online is probably not in the best interests of most applicants, with the exception of those who have retained legal counsel.
Why? Because only an in-person interview will give you the opportunity to sit across from a social security field office worker and talk about your case, addressing any and all issues necessary, such as: "How long will it take to receive a decision on my appeal? Is there anything I can do to help speed the process along? Is my paperwork filled out correctly? Do you have all of the information needed to make a decision?" etc., or to ask any other questions for which you need answers. Filing an appeal online is one shortcut that, unfortunately, could ultimately delay a decision in 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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