What is the Process for Appealing a Denied SSDI Claim?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a great way to replace some of your lost income if you get sick or hurt and can no longer work, but getting approved for benefits isn’t guaranteed. In fact, many people who are forced to leave their jobs due to health conditions apply for benefits and get denied, despite having valid and recognized medical conditions.
If your claim was denied, don’t give up hope. Matt Hardin Law’s team of Nashville Social Security Disability attorneys knows the ins-and-outs of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) process for approving and rejecting benefits claims, and we’ll do everything in our power to build an appeal that maximizes your chances of getting approved.
Understanding the Four Levels of SSDI Claim Appeals
After you receive a rejection notice from the SSA, you have 60 days to file an appeal. Once you’ve decided to file an appeal and contacted an experienced attorney, you’ll begin the appeals process, which is divided into four levels:
Reconsideration by a Different SSA Representative
The reconsideration phase is when an SSA representative who originally had no role in your first claim will review all parts of your appeal. The representative will look at all of the original evidence that led to your initial claim’s denial as well as any new evidence submitted by you or your attorney.
If your appeal is based on an initial rejection, you will not need to be present. However, if you are appealing the loss of your SSDI benefits, you can meet with the representative in person and explain how your disability still affects your capacity to work.
- Hearing Conducted by an Administrative Law Judge
If the reconsideration representative once again denies your claim, you have the right to ask for a hearing on your appeal. Like the reconsideration process, the hearing process will be presided over by an administrative law judge who didn’t take part in your original claim. In most cases, administrative law hearings are held within 75 miles of claimant’s homes.
Prior to your hearing date, you may receive a request for additional information regarding your medical status and employment history to help paint a more complete picture of your claim.
During the hearing, the administrative law judge will interview you and witnesses that you choose to bring about your health and capacity to work. These witnesses can include people in the medical field, work industry experts, and friends and family. Your attorney will assist you when selecting and interviewing witnesses during the hearing.
It’s best to always attend hearings in person if possible. In most cases, your attorney will handle almost all aspects of the hearing, but it’s vital that you are present to maximize your chances of winning your appeal.
Investigation and Review by the Social Security Appeals Council
If your appeal is once again denied after the hearing process, you can ask for an additional review of your claim by the Social Security’s Appeals Council.
The Appeals Council will initially review your claim, but may deny it if there’s strong evidence that the hearing decision was initially correct. However, if the Appeals Council believes that your appeal has validity, it will either decide your claim itself or overturn it to an administrative law judge to conduct a more thorough review of the facts.
Filing a Lawsuit in Federal Court
Even if your claim for SSDI benefits is completely valid, there’s still a chance that your appeal will be denied at all levels. If that happens, you still have recourse—you can file a lawsuit in federal district court in order to have your appeal reconsidered once again.
Our Nashville Social Security Disability attorneys will work closely with you throughout the appeals process to help you determine if filing a lawsuit is the best course of action. If your appeal was unfairly denied, we will fight to make sure your appeal gets the attention and reconsideration it deserves.
Get a Law Firm that Knows SSDI Claims and Appeals on Your Side
At Matt Hardin Law, our legal team has helped many people suffering from injuries and illnesses that prevent them from working. Nobody wants to lose their ability to earn a living for themselves and their family, and that’s why being eligible to receive SSDI benefits is so important.
Don’t let the SSA’s decision on your initial claim or appeal be the final word on your eligibility. Get in touch with our legal team today and see how we can help you. Just dial (615) 200-1111 or fill out a free online form to let us know how we can help.