Abromson & Carey, Attorneys at Law
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Appealing Social Security denials

Denial of Social Security Disability benefits may be catastrophic to applicants and their families. Fortunately, applicants possess rights to appeal a denial of SSD benefits. The Social Security Administration must inform applicants by mail of any denial. Appeals must be written and received by the SSA within 60 days.

The SSA will first reconsider the denial by having a person uninvolved in the denial completely review the claim. The reviewer will review all the evidence underlying the first decision and any other additional information that is submitted. Usually, an applicant does not have to appear in person. However, an applicant can meet with an SSA representative during reconsideration of a denial that was based upon an improved medical condition.

An applicant who disagrees with a reconsideration decision can request a hearing before a neutral administrative law judge. Hearings are usually held within 75 miles of the applicant's home. Sometimes, a request for a video hearing may be granted. The SSA may request that applicants submit more information before the hearing.

At the hearing, the judge can question the applicant and any witnesses, such as vocational or medical experts. Applicants or their representatives may also question witnesses. The judge will issue a written decision after the hearing based upon all the information in the case. The decision will be sent to the applicant, who may ask for review by the Social Security Appeals Council.

The Council looks at all requests for review but it may deny review if it feels that the judge was correct. It may decide the case on its own or transfer it to a judge for review. Final decisions are mailed to the applicant. An applicant may also file a lawsuit in federal court if the Appeals Council denies review or rules against an applicant. Time periods govern the appeal process.

Applicants can ask that SSD benefits continue during an appeal if an applicant is appealing a ruling that the medical condition was not disabling. Applicants may have to return benefits if they are later found ineligible.

Seeking benefits and proceeding with these appeals may be complicated. An attorney can assist applicants with obtaining these benefits and complying with federal regulations and SSA requirements.

Source: Social Security Administration, "The Appeals Process," Accessed March 12, 2017

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