No one is guaranteed good health throughout their lifetime. Sometimes a person in Tennessee suffers an illness of injury so serious that it permanently stops them from working. When this happens, it may be time to apply for Social Security disability benefits. However, the application process can be complex and many initial applications for SSD benefits are rejected. However, this is not the end of the story. There is a four-step appeals process that may allow a person to obtain SSD benefits even if their initial application is denied.
Step 1: Reconsideration
The first step in the SSD appeals process is reconsideration. A disability examiner not involved in the initial review of the application will examine the application, evidence used in the initial decision and any new evidence submitted. After that, the disability examiner will issue a decision either approving or denying the application for benefits.
Step 2: Hearing with an ALJ
If the application is denied in reconsideration, the next step in the SSD appeals process is attending a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ). The ALJ will have had no part in the initial determination or the reconsideration of the application. The hearing can be held in person or via video. In person hearings will be held within 75 miles of the applicant’s home. Many applicants choose to have an attorney represent them at these hearings.
Step 3: Appeals Council review
If the ALJ rejects the application for SSD benefits, the next step in the appeals process is an Appeals Council review. The Appeals Council will decide whether to review a rejected application. If the Appeals Council decides to review an application for SSD benefits, it will either approve the application, deny the application or send the application back to a new ALJ for review.
Step 4: Federal Court review
If the Appeals Council rejects the application the next step is to file a civil claim in a federal district court. This is the final step in the appeals process.
Learn more about SSD benefits
If your initial application for SSD benefits is denied, do not lose hope. There is an appeals process in place. An attorney can represent you at any step of the application process. You can explore our firm’s SSD website for further information on appealing a denied claim for SSD benefits.