How to Win a Social Security Disability Appeal?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) manages the two federal disability benefits programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). It can be incredibly difficult to gain approval for disability benefits. A majority of Social Security Disability applications are denied the first time a person files for disability benefits. Therefore, if your SSDI or SSI application was denied, you are not alone.
However, you likely need financial help when you cannot work because of a disability. The first step you need to take when you receive a letter denying your Social Security disability benefits is to understand the appeals process. The second thing you need to know is how to win an appeal a Social Security disability appeal. Let’s take a closer look at both of these topics.
What Are the Steps for a Social Security Disability Appeal?
You have four chances to win a Social Security disability appeal. When you file an SSI or SSDI application, your application goes through an initial determination. If the SSA approves your disability application, it will notify you of the amount of your monthly benefits and whether you qualify for back pay.
If the SSA denies your disability application, it will notify you that you are not eligible for disability benefits. The denial letter should explain why the SSA denied your disability benefits. It should also notify you of the deadline for filing an appeal of the decision.
There are four steps in the appeals process for Social Security disability:
- Administrative Law Judge Hearing
- Review by Appeals Council
- Filing a Lawsuit in Federal Court
Each step in the Social Security disability appeals process becomes more complicated and challenging. There are strict deadlines and requirements for each different appeal. A mistake could result in starting from the beginning with a new application for Social Security disability benefits.
Many individuals hire a disability lawyer to help with their appeals. The SSA is a huge government agency with trained lawyers, judges, and agents. You need someone on your side with the knowledge, experience, and resources who can fight for your disability benefits.
Four Important Tips for Winning a Social Security Disability Appeal
Many SSDI and SSI applications are denied for mistakes made by applicants or a lack of medical evidence proving the person is disabled. Other reasons for a denial could include earning too much money, having too many assets, or failing to cooperate with an independent examination.
Four tips for winning a Social Security disability appeal are:
Submit Appeal Requests Before the Deadlines
As mentioned above, you have a very short time to request an appeal. If you do not submit your request timely, the SSA will close your case. If this happens, you will have to start the process over from the very beginning. Your closed case could reflect poorly on a new disability application.
When you submit an appeal request, it must follow the rules and requirements for the request. For example, the request may need to be in writing and contain specific information. The SSA may require you to submit specific forms. The request may need to be submitted to a specific address.
Correct Any Errors on Your Initial Application
Many appeals are resolved at the reconsideration phase. However, if there were errors in your initial application, a second pair of eyes may catch the same errors, which will result in a rejected application.
Your disability application and all other forms and documents filed with the SSA must be complete and error-free. If you completed the initial application yourself, you might want to consult with a lawyer. A disability attorney can review the application and make any corrections necessary to avoid repeating the same problem during the appeal.
Submit Additional Supporting Evidence
Another common reason for disability denials is that the person does not meet the definition of disabled. The SSA uses the definition of disability found in the Code of Federal Regulations. If your application for disability benefits was denied because you did not meet the requirements for being disabled, you need to submit additional medical evidence for consideration.
You might need to see a medical specialist who can provide additional evidence that supports the severity of your condition. It is also a good idea to verify that the SSA representative has all your relevant medical records. You may have forgotten to list doctors or other medical providers on your initial application.
Work With an Experienced Social Security Disability Lawyer
One of the best ways to improve your chance of winning a Social Security disability appeal is to hire an experienced disability lawyer. Disability lawyers understand what evidence and documentation are required to win an appeal. They know how to strengthen your case by submitting additional documentation and evidence supporting your claim.
The attorney also monitors deadlines and ensures that all forms and documents are complete and error-free. They guide you through the process so that you do not make mistakes that could result in another denial of benefits.
Attorneys who handle Social Security disability claims are only paid if you receive your benefits. Their fee is limited to a specific percentage of your back pay. Therefore, you do not need to worry about paying the lawyer fees unless you win your disability appeal.