If you are requesting an appeal in Florida, do it quickly to keep your case moving through the system

Most individuals who decide to finally file a claim for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits (I say finally because many claimants think about filing for benefits but delay the decision to file for quite some time) know very little about how the system works.

In fact, many individuals who work in social security field and district offices know relatively very little about how the disability system works (this is because the social security office takes the disability application, but does not process it --- this is handled by a disability examiner in a state-level agency whose function is to render medical decisions on disability cases).

Naturally, then, a person who is filing for disability benefits may be partially or completely unaware of their appeal rights and the Social Security Disability appeals process.

In essence, this is how the disability appeals process works: Disability applicants whose claims are denied at the initial application level have to right to request an appeal within sixty days of the date of their denial. This appeal is essentially a reconsideration of the decision that was made on the initial application.

Typically, this review results in the same decision; that is, another denial. Disability claimants who are denied on this review are entitled to request a second appeal within sixty days of the date of this denial and this appeal is known as a request for hearing before an administrative law judge. The chances of winning benefits rise substantially at this appeal (even more so for claimants with representation), which is good news for claimants.

Unfortunately, the time required to get to a hearing can be extraordinarily long (from the time a hearing has been requested until the time a hearing date is set can take as long as two years). And, of course, this does not take into consideration the length of time that the first appeal step may require (the first appeal can take as little as a few weeks or as long as several months). Obviously, appeals for Social Security Disability and SSI claims can be very drawn out and taxing (both mentally and financially).

Despite these realities, however, the appeals process will, typically, yield better opportunities for approvals to claimants who have been initially denied (versus filing a brand new ssd or ssi claim and starting over from scratch).

Important things to remember about the Social Security Disability and SSI appeals process:

1. If you are requesting an appeal, do it quickly to keep your case moving through the system as fast as possible.

2. If you have had additional medical treatment or have been seen by new medical treatment sources, be sure to report this information when you submit your appeal paperwork.

3. If the appeal you are requesting is for a disability hearing, seriously consider getting representation so your case may be adequately and properly prepared prior to your hearing date.

4. After submitting your appeal paperwork (if you did not file electronically), make a follow up call to the social security office to make sure they received it.

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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