What if you receive a Denial at a Disability Hearing in Missouri?

I have a friend who was recently in the position of potentially receiving a denial following a disability hearing. I say "potentially" because, even for the most solid cases, there is simply no way to know what a judge's decision will be until the notice of decision arrives in the mail (though, sometimes a judge will indicate at a hearing if he or she plans to approve the case and award disability benefits).

My friend had worked in state and local government for over thirty years and had become disabled (as so many claimants do) as a result of a multitude of health problems, including diabetes, degenerative disc disease, fibromyalgia, severe arthritis in multiple joints, and a couple of other conditions I can't recall.

Following her hearing, her disability lawyer (a very good one who I would easily recommend, due to the fine quality of her representation---she is widely known and respected in the Raleigh, NC area) told her "it looks good". My friend responded by asking "So, you think we'll win?". The lawyer answered "There's no guarantee. But I think we have a good chance".

My friend was stymied a bit by this answer. She thought to herself, "if that's the best my attorney can tell me, maybe even she doesn't believe we'll win".

On hearing this from my long-time friend, I said "No, it doesn't mean that your attorney is doubtful about your chances. But she knows, from her experience in handling cases, that sometimes, even with the best cases and the most favorable judges, the outcome of an SSD hearing can be a crapshoot".

So, my friend asked, "What if I get a denial from my disability hearing?". I told her that there are several options.

1. A claimant could decide to give up (usually not a good decision).

2. In some cases, a claimant will be advised to begin a new claim. That is, start a new disability application.

3. In other cases, going forward will mean filing an appeal in Missouri of the denial issued by an administrative law judge (a request for review). This involves an appeal being filed with the appeals council.

If your case is denied by a judge, can you file an appeal with the appeals council and file a new application for disability?

In the past, the answer was "Yes you can", and the both the application and appeal would be worked on independently. Note: this is no longer the case.

Why would a person do this? To hedge their bets in the event that the appeal from the appeals council will not be returned favorably(meaning that the request for review will be denied and that the appeals council will neither overturn the judge's decision, nor find reason to remand the case, i.e. send it back to the same judge for a second 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.

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