Appealing the denial of Social Security Disability benefits

St. Louis residents who are seeking to obtain Social Security Disability benefits may be interested in how the appeals process works. When a person's Social Security Disability claim is denied, they have just 60 days of receiving the letter of denial in which to file an appeal, which features multiple levels that allow for fresh reviews of the evidence.

The appeals process consists of four subsequent levels of review. If a timely appeal is filed, the government will do what is known as a reconsideration. This is when a new caseworker looks at all of the evidence originally provided and any new evidence that is submitted. He or she will examine the evidence both for and against the person's claim. If the claim is again denied, the person may seek a hearing, the second level of appeal. At the hearing, an administrative law judge will examine any available evidence and hear testimony from witnesses. The judge will then send the decision by mail.

If the decision is still not in the person's favor, the third level of appeal is called the Appeals Council. This level is more selective, and the appeal will be denied if the Appeals Council agrees with the decision of the previous judge. If it does accept the appeal, then it may either make the decision or send the case back to another administrative judge. If none of these levels produces a favorable decision, the person can file a lawsuit in federal court for reconsideration of the claim.

Successfully appealing a claim denial can be difficult without assistance. An attorney who has experience in Social Security Disability benefits claims might help by filing the appeal and appearing on behalf of the claimant. The attorney could also continue representation throughout the appeals process, if necessary.

Source: SSA.gov, "The Appeals Process", July 17, 2014

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