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How do you appeal the SSA's decision to deny SSI benefits?


Many New Jersey residents may know that it is possible to appeal a refusal of Social Security Disability benefits. It is also possible to appeal a negative decision made by the Social Security Administration regarding a Supplemental Security Income claim. An appeal process is comprised of several steps, with federal courts being the highest authority that will consider the claim.

A normal course of action provides 60 days to appeal an SSA decision. In cases of exigencies there may be some relaxations to this timeframe. The appeal must be submitted in writing using the form, "SSA-561" with all necessary details provided. A claim denied for medical grounds can appealed by a request on the SSA's website. In some exceptional cases where SSI benefits continue after an appeal, but then the appeal is subsequently denied, the recipient may have to return that money.

The first step in the appeal process is "reconsideration," where a person who was not part of the first decision reviews it and makes recommendations. That person studies all existing evidence along with medical reports and any additional information sent to the SSA with the appeal filing. At this stage, decisions are made through a case review, informal conference or a formal conference, based on the type of appeal. Once the decision is made, the appellant is sent a letter.

The next step of appeal is a hearing where an administrative law judge, not a part of the original decision or reconsideration, hears the case. The judge reviews existing and new evidence and medical reports and also questions witnesses, if required. After the hearing, the judge's decision is sent to the appellant by mail. Hearings are generally held no more than 75 miles from an appellant's home.

The third step involves a review by the Appeals Council, which either makes a decision by itself or returns the case to the administrative law judge for another review. If a decision is made, a letter mentioning the decision is sent to the appellant. If a person still does not agree with the SSA's decision, that person may take the matter to a federal court.

Source: SSA.gov, "Your Right to Question a Decision Made on Your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Claim," Accessed on Dec. 19, 2014

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