The first appeal in a Social Security Disability or SSI case

Everyone who files for Social Security Disability (SSD) or supplemental security income (SSI) is entitled to file an appeal if their claim is denied by social security. To file an appeal with social security, simply call the social security office and tell them that you wish to file a disability appeal request. Be sure to do this immediately upon receiving your notice of denial. If you wait longer than 60 days to file, you lose your right to appeal and must start the entire process over with a new claim.

After you inform the social security administration (SSA) of your intent to appeal, they will send you the necessary forms to complete. Fill them out and send them back to them as soon as possible so as not to delay a decision in your case.

If you have retained a disability attorney and notify his or her office that you want to appeal, that individual should handle all of the paperwork for you. The first appeal in a disability matter is called a request for reconsideration, and, unfortunately, reconsideration appeals are decided by the same agency that denied the disability application, which is your state disability determination services (DDS) agency. DDS, of course, is the agency that makes decisions on disability claims for the social security administration.

Not surprisingly, most first appeals are unsuccessful; about 81% of all reconsideration appeals are turned down. Certainly, though, if you have new information for DDS to consider, such as a new diagnosis, test results, or treatments that you did not include with your original disability application, you should send it in along with your appeal paperwork. Be sure to include all physician or medical facility contact information and dates of treatment. Anything new that you can add to your file could increase the odds that your appeal will be approved.

It takes about 3 to 4 months to receive a decision on a reconsideration appeal, but in general there is less work involved for the claimant in filing an appeal than in filing the first disability application. This is because the bulk of the work history, medical history, and medical records are already in your file at DDS, and at this point you will be adding only new evidence (if you have any).

If your first appeal is denied, you have the right to a second appeal. Again, it must be filed within 60 days, or you lose this right. The second appeal is decided by a federal disability judge rather than by a disability examiner at DDS. If you pursue your case to this second level of appeal, your chances of approval rise considerably, particularly if you are represented by a disability attorney. About 60% of all disability denials are overturned by judges when the claimant has legal representation at the hearing.

Be aware that it can take a long time to receive a final decision on a disability hearing. Current case backlogs across the country could mean a wait of 1 to 2 years before your hearing is even scheduled, and then a wait of several more weeks after the hearing to receive a decisional notice in your case.

If you receive a disability denial, you should strongly consider at least speaking to a qualified disability attorney before filing an appeal. Most disability lawyers offer free first-time consults, and they can be very helpful when it comes to appealing disability denials, and may be the key to a successful outcome in any disability hearing.

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.

Questions and Answers

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2. How Can I Get Social Security Disability If I Have Not Worked For A Long Time?

3. If You Get Denied For Disability Should You appeal Or file A New Claim?

4. Does Social Security Like Current Medical Records?

5. How Likely Is It That A Social Security Disability Claim Will Be Won Prior To The Hearing Level?

6. How Long Are You Given To Appeal Your Social Security Disability Denial?

7. Will my doctor charge me for a letter for my Social Security Disability claim?

8. What is the Chance of Winning an SSA appeal for disability?

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