Some people are surprised and discouraged when they find out that the Social Security Administration (SSA) rejected their application for their disability benefits. SSA’s denials are common, and if this happened to you, you must know that not everything is lost. Under the law, you have the right to challenge the SSA’s decision and fight for your rights through the SSA’s different levels of appeal.
Appealing the SSA’s decision
The latest data from the SSA shows that only 50% of applicants are successful on their applications. You must know it is not rare for the SSA to reject applications. Besides, the SSA has a system that allows you to make them reconsider their decision. This is known as the appeals process, and there are four different levels in it:
- A hearing before an administrative judge
- A review by Social Security’s Appeals Council
- A review by the federal courts
You have to go through reconsideration first before asking for a hearing with a judge. It is a step-by-step process, so you can only move to the next appeal level if you have tried out the one that comes before. If you decide to appeal, you must file a petition no later than 60 days after receiving notification of the denial. If you do it later, the SSA’s decision will become final, and you won’t be able to fight for your benefits.
In the reconsideration stage, the SSA will review your case again and offer you your benefits if they find that you deserve them or that they made a mistake in their decision. However, if that does not work out, you’ll have to request a hearing before an administrative judge. According to the SSA’s rules, the judge has to be different from the one who took part in the original decision or reconsideration of your case. The hearing can be either in person or online.
To avoid going through the third and fourth levels of appeal, you must make sure you prepare yourself for the hearing. In the hearing, the SSA will ask you to give them more evidence as to why you need the benefits. You may also need to bring witnesses like medical or vocational experts to support your claim. The more proof you give to the SSA about the effects of your disability, the more probabilities you´ll have of success.
If the hearing is unsuccessful
In the hearing, the judge will listen to your arguments and decide if you deserve the benefits. If you disagree with the answer they give you, you’ll have to ask the SSA’s Appeals Council to review your case. If they reject your petition or refuse to review your application, you’ll need to take your case to federal court.
Fighting for your rights
The higher the level of appeal, the more complicated the process will be. However, you have the right to have an attorney help you with your application and represent you in the process. As an American citizen with a disability, you have the right to receive assistance and benefits from the government, and you have the right to fight for them in court.