Filing a disability appeal in Michigan with or without a Lawyer

Filing a Disability Appeal without a Disability Lawyer or Disability Representative

If you receive a denial on your SSI or Social Security Disability claim in Michigan and are not represented by a disability lawyer you should immediately contact the social security administration and request that appeal forms be mailed out to you.

You are not required to call a local office to request appeal forms. A claimant can always go online to complete the appeal, or even download the forms and then mail them to the social security administration.

Calling and requesting forms, however, puts SSA on notice that an appeal is being requested and also allows the claimant to ask any questions they might have about the appeal process from a "live individual".

Once the appeal forms are received, the claimant should immediately complete and sign them. Social Security has purposely designed the appeal forms for ease of completion and the forms can typically be completed in under forty minutes. Claimants who are doing their own appeal should be sure to make a copy of anything that they are mailing in before it is mailed (if SSA claims not to have received the appeal, having a copy can prevent the necessity of having to complete the paperwork all over again from scratch).

Also, after mailing the appeal, the claimant should make a followup call to the social security office within 10-20 days to verify that the appeal was actually received and is being processed. This is extremely important since there is a 60 day deadline in which to file the appeal and doing a followup can help ensure that the deadline is not missed.

Should an appeal be done by a claimant or by a disability attorney?

To some extent, this depends on the perspective of the claimant. Some claimants in Michigan will avoid representation until right before the hearing stage. In so doing, they may give up some opportunity to win their claim at the reconsideration appeal level (the step prior to the hearing level). However, whether they really are giving up any opportunity would depend on whether or not they might have had a representative who was determined to develop the case at that earlier level.

Certainly, claimants whose claims will be heard by an administrative law judge at a social security hearing should consider finding a representative who specializes in handling social security claims for disability. And, typically, the likelihood is that if a claimant is denied on a disability application, they will eventually have to request a disability hearing. This is because the first appeal, the reconsideration, is denied at a rate of higher than 80 percent, making the second appeal, the disability hearing, usually necessary in order for benefits to be won.

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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