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How Do I Appeal My Social Security Disability Denial?

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Applying for disability benefits is not the easiest process. Not only can the application review process take months, but many people are denied benefits based on their initial application even when they are ultimately eligible. You do not need to take a benefits denial at face value; you have the right to appeal. Although the process can feel overwhelming at first, with help from an experienced Social Security benefits lawyer, you can get the disability benefits you need. Read on to learn about the Social Security appeals process. If your Social Security Disability application has been denied, reach out to a seasoned California Social Security Disability benefits attorney for help getting the SSI or SSDI benefits you are due.

Reconsideration

The first step after denial of Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits is to request reconsideration. A request for reconsideration asks the Social Security Administration (SSA) to look at your case again. You can request reconsideration online or paper form sent via mail or fax.

Different forms are used depending on whether your denial was based on a medical reason or a non-medical issue. In your request for reconsideration, you can submit additional evidence (such as medical records) not covered in your initial application.

You must file a request for reconsideration within 60 days of receiving your denial letter. If you are currently receiving payments and you request reconsideration soon enough, you can continue to receive those payments while your reconsideration is pending. Reconsideration typically takes two to four months.

Hearing Before an ALJ

If the SSA continues to deny you benefits upon reconsideration, you can request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). Again, the request can be submitted online or on paper. You must request the hearing within 60 days of receiving notice of the SSA’s reconsideration determination.

You can choose to either appear at the hearing or have the ALJ make a determination based on the evidence already in your record. It’s advisable to have your disability benefits attorney appear for you at the hearing to present evidence and argue your case. The hearing will be focused on the reasons for your denial and whether they hold water. The court may ask certain witnesses to attend, such as medical or vocational experts. Your attorney can ask the court to allow certain witnesses to testify on your behalf as well, such as your treating physician. A number of specific procedures must be followed for the hearing concerning the submission of evidence, presentation of witnesses, etc., which your attorney can handle.

Appeals Council

If the ALJ determines that you are not eligible for benefits, you can appeal their decision to the Appeals Council. You or your attorney must request an Appeals Council review within 60 days of receiving the ALJ’s decision after the hearing. The ALJ may also choose to take your case on its own. Under certain circumstances, you may be able to present new evidence to the Appeals Council.

The Appeals Council may grant you benefits, remand your case for further proceedings, or issue a decision that grants certain things in your favor and remand for further proceedings on other issues. The Council may also deny your application entirely.

Federal Court Review

Ultimately, if the Appeals Council rules against you, your attorney can take your case to federal court. Your case will proceed before a U.S. district judge and, if you receive an unfavorable decision, you can further appeal to the federal Court of Appeals. This process can add a number of months to your ultimate decision.

Get Help Fighting for the California Disability Benefits You Need

For help appealing a disability benefits denial or collecting disability benefits in Southern California or statewide, call the dedicated and thorough Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income (SSD/SSI) attorneys of Drake & Drake at 818-914-4055.

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Drake & Drake, P.C., is located in Calabasas, CA and serves clients in and around Woodland Hills, Wilmington, Harbor City, Carson, Torrance, San Pedro, Long Beach, Compton, Gardena, Paramount, Lynwood, Bellflower, South Gate, Los Angeles, Hawaiian Gardens, Artesia, Huntington Park, Cerritos, Bell, Norwalk, Maywood, Santa Fe Springs, Pico Rivera, Whittier and Los Angeles County.

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