Filing a disability appeal in Michigan

If your disability claim is denied in Michigan and you do not file an appeal, your claim for disability benefits (monthly benefits and back pay) will effectively die. The only way to keep your claim going in such a situation will be to file whatever appeal applies to your specific situation.

If your claim was denied at the initial claim level, you will file a request for reconsideration. And if your claim was denied at the reconsideration level, you will file a request for a hearing with an administrative law judge.

However, do not make the mistake that many claimants make after being denied. If you file for disability benefits with the social security administration (SSA) and your claim is denied, you should file an appeal immediately. SSA will give you 60 days from the date of your denial notice (the actual notice will probably be titled "Notice of Disapproved Claim"), but you really shouldn't wait very long to get your appeal started.

This is simply because the longer you wait, the more time it will take to process your claim. And time, for individuals who are unable to work and earn an income, can be a costly factor.

The primary advantage of filing an appeal for Social Security Disability or SSI is that your case will move to the next level of the system where it will be considered by a different adjudicator. As previously mentioned, for those who have been denied at the initial claim level, the next level will be the reconsideration appeal.

The reconsideration is handled in the same manner as the disability application but by a different disability examiner. This can allow a different viewpoint to enter into the evaluation of your claim and in some cases the reconsideration examiner may notice medical evidence that was neglected by the first disability examiner.

Having said this, though, this appeal level is very difficult to win and, statistically, only about 13-15 percent of reconsideration appeals are won by claimants.

Nonetheless, it is worth filing a request for reconsideration because even if the "recon" is denied, the claimant will then be allowed to file a request for a hearing. Typically, it can take more than a year to get a hearing date once a disability hearing has been requested. But, despite this long wait, a hearing request is well worth the time and effort as more than sixty percent of represented claimants are usually awarded disability benefits after a hearing.

Update: Currently, the reconsideration appeal phase is suspended in Michigan, though this appeal step may be reinstituted in the near future. Michigan is one of 10 prototype states in which a claim that has been denied at the application level may proceed immediately to the hearing appeal phase.

As before, the request for hearing must be made within 60 days of the denial. Claimants who are not represented may wish to consider consulting with a disability attorney or non-attorney disability representative. Representation can assist a claimant at any level of the claim system but is particularly helpful for ensuring that a claim is both properly documented and presented before an ALJ (administrative law judge).

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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