What do I do to file a disability appeal in New York?

The majority of applicants who file claims for Social Security Disability (SSD) or SSI in New York will not be approved for benefits when they first apply. In fact, only 30 percent of all initial applications are approved by the NY disability determination services (DDS) agency, which means 70 percent of disability applicants will at some point be required to file an appeal, or request for reconsideration, with DDS.

Request for reconsideration appeals must be filed within 60 days from the date printed on the initial denial of the claim (note: not 60 days from when you received the claim in the mail). Therefore, after you have been denied for disability benefits, you should immediately contact the social security office and inform them of your intention to appeal the disability examiner's decision in your case. At that point social security will note that you have made a timely request (within the 60-day deadline), and send paperwork for you to fill out in order to initiate the appeals process.

The forms associated with reconsideration appeals are not lengthy or complicated, but some claimants may wish to retain a disability lawyer at this point. Only 15 percent of disability appeals with DDS are successful, so there is a good chance that your case will be one of the many that must be heard before an administrative judge before it is approved (if it is approved). And if, as is likely, your appeal is denied and must be heard before a disability judge, your chances of winning benefits are significantly greater if you have a lawyer present your case.

A disability attorney, or a non-attorney disability representative, in New York can file your appeal paperwork for you, including documentation of any new medical evidence that may help corroborate the disabling nature of your condition.

If you have had a disability lawyer involved in your case from the beginning, he or she will most likely receive notice that your claim has been denied, and automatically file an appeal for you with social security, but you should always check to make sure your lawyer has been updated.

A reconsideration appeal is almost always worthwhile, even if only to advance your case to the level at which it stands its best chance of approval: the administrative hearing. Most disability applicants will end up filing one at some point. In fact, so many initial claims are denied that many believe the common misconception that there is an unspoken rule within the social security administration that no disability claims can be approved the first time they are filed.

While there is no rule in place, spoken or unspoken, that states a disability claim cannot be approved fairly quickly after the initial application, enough individuals filing for SSD or SSI benefits are denied that claimants would be wise to prepare for the possibility of appeals, beginning with the request for reconsideration process.

Of course, when filing appeals, claimants in New York should be especially careful to comply with the deadline for filing an appeal. If applicants miss the deadline for filing an appeal, they will have no choice but to start the entire disability application process over again with a new claim, and unnecessarily delay the final decision in their claim.

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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