Submitting a Social Security Disability Appeal in Ohio
If you have filed a appeal the decision.
Claimants who are not represented by a disability attorney or a non-attorney disability representative at the time of their denial should contact Social Security immediately to request an appeal. SSA allows claimants 60 days, plus an additional five days for mailing time of documents, to file an appeal.
However, many claimants mistakenly assume that they may mail their appeal forms by the 60th or 65th day. In actuality, the appeal forms must be received by a Social Security office by the 65th day, or it will be considered untimely.
Claimants who submit their own appeals should, of course, keep a copy of the forms they submit in the event that their paperwork is lost or not received by SSA.
Claimants who do have representation at the time they are denied should simply contact their representative to advise them that a denial notice has been received. In all likelihood, the representative will receive a copy of the notice, but this does not always occur.
Therefore, it is good practice for a claimant to always contact their representative when correspondence of any kind is received from the Social Security Administration, if for no other reason than to keep all parties "on the same page".
When a claimant has representation, typically the representative will file the appropriate appeal, keep a copy for their file, and send one copy to their client for their personal records.
When an appeal is filed, the claimant and/or their attorney or representative should use the "appeal disability report form" to notify Social Security of any changes such as a) new medical treatment sources, b) newly diagnosed conditions, c) any changes in symptoms or functional capacity.
The first appeal in Ohio is known as a request for reconsideration. Reconsiderations are processed in the same manner as disability applications, meaning that a reconsideration will be determined at Ohio DDS (disability determination services) by a disability examiner who will review the available medical and vocational evidence.
Since the reconsideration process is practically identical to the initial claim process (the only substantial difference is that a different level disability examiner evaluates the claim), it should not be surprising that a reconsideration is likely to be denied as well.
In fact, the denial rate at this level in Ohio, which is the first appeal level, is 89 percent (by contrast, at the application level in Ohio 72 percent of claims are denied).
Individuals who receive a reconsideration denial should immediately file a request for a hearing before an ALJ, or administrative law judge. Again, the process for requesting this appeal is the same as with the reconsideration appeal, and the same deadline period applies (60 days from the date of the most recent denial, plus an added five days for mailing time).
A new claim versus an appeal
Claimants very often make the mistake of filing a new disability claim instead of filing an appeal. Why is this a mistake? A compelling reason for not starting over with a new claim is the fact that a new filing date may potentially result in the loss of thousands of dollars in disability back pay.
However, there are two other main reasons why it is generally advisable to request a hearing before a judge rather than file a new SSD claim:
1) If you file a new claim, you will have to go through the entire initial claims process again, including being assigned a claims representative (CR). And, in all likelihood, a new claim will simply be denied again.
2) A judge is statistically more likely to approve a Social Security Disability or SSI claim than the state disability agency (DDS). In other words, it is in your best interest, if your claim has been denied, to appear in front of a judge at the first opportunity.
There is one exception to this rule, and that is in a case in which a disability application has been denied on 'technical' grounds, i.e., your annual income/earnings were too much to qualify you for disability, and you were therefore disqualified from the outset.
In this scenario, no time is lost by filing a new claim, since the claim never really got to the point in which medical records and/or work history was considered.
To sum up, if your claim and request for reconsideration have been denied by DDS, your next best step is almost always to request a hearing before an administrative judge. Not only will you save yourself months, perhaps even years, of time, but you are also more likely to receive a favorable outcome on your 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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