Social Security disability appeals process
Social Security disability benefits are available to people who are unable to work for a year or more due to a disability. If they are awarded, they are usually paid until the recipient is able to work again.
Unfortunately, Social Security disability benefits may be denied for a number of reasons. They may be denied because Social Security believes that there is a lack of medical evidence for the claim, because the person exceeds income thresholds or the person fails to follow through with a treatment plan, among others.
If a person has been denied benefits, he or she has a right to appeal the decision and is entitled to have a representative act on his or her behalf.
The first step is called a reconsideration. A reconsideration is a review of the claim by a person who was not involved in the initial decision. A reconsideration can be done by a case review, an informal conference or a formal conference.
A case review is where a Social Security representative reviews the applicant’s case file for information, but does not meet with him or her. An informal conference allows the applicant to appear in person and bring witnesses. With a formal conference, Social Security can require witnesses to appear.
If the applicant disagrees with the decision made in the reconsideration, he or she can request a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ). The ALJ will ask questions of the applicant and his or her witnesses.
Then, the next step is a review by the Social Security appeals council. It may deny the request if it believes the decision was correct, but if it does the applicant still has a right to file a lawsuit.
The Social Security disability appeals process can be complex, but there is assistance available to navigate it.