What do You do if You get Denied for Disability in California?

This is not a trick question, just one with an obvious answer.

I've blogged about this topic frequently, but its always worth revisiting for one basic reason: many, many thousands of individuals who file for disability and then get denied fail to take the next, obvious, most practical, and most beneficial step. That is, they do not follow up by filing a disability appeal.

In fact, a recent article in a publication called the suburban Chicago news tells the story of a woman who worked as a health home aide until her heart problems and a spinal lesion made it impossible to continue working. She went to social security to apply for disability benefits, was denied as so many claimants are and then...apparently did nothing in the way of utilizing the Social Security Disability appeal process. This seems to be indicated by the fact that she apparently filed a new disability application the following year and another disability application the year after that.

As a disability examiner, it was impossible not to notice this phenomenon among claimants -- getting denied for disability and then not doing an appeal, but, instead, waiting until a later point to apply all over again.

Why? Who can say, really. My own suspicion is that a large percentage of these individuals, for one reason or another, fail to submit their disability appeal by the time limit (60 days plus 5 additional days allotted for mail time) and then, because of that, have no choice to start over with a new claim.

Which, in all likelihood, will simply get denied because it will be handled by the same agency--the state disability processing agency that handles disability decisions for the social security administration and which, in most states, is known as DDS--that previously handled the claim... versus being heard and evaluated by an administrative law judge who is not part of that same institutional (and inherently hostile) process.

However, it is also likely that many claimants who have been denied for disability in California fully intend to file a disability appeal and then for whatever reasons...fail to do so.

Here's the truth of the matter, though. There is absolutely no reason for missing a disability appeal deadline in 99 percent of all cases when the social security administration allows claimants two full months to submit an appeal. Yet it happens time and time again.

For this reason, I am strongly inclined to sharply agree with those who so vocally declare that no one should seek disability representation until they've requested a disability hearing, or even not at all.

Obviously, there are thousands upon thousands of disability claimants whose cases would have successfully moved forward in the system had they simply had a representative on record to handle their appeals for them. Yes, the filing of appeals is very simple; but the mere fact that so many claimants fail to do timely appeals is a strong argument for considering early representation on a claim. And the argument becomes much stronger when claimants are filing on the basis of medical impairments that significantly impair their mobility, impair their memory, impair their cognitive ability, or otherwise impair them mentally.

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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