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You Can File a Social Security Disability Appeal if You Are Initially Turned Down

ssd ssi approved.jpgThe majority of applicants for Social Security Disability benefits (SSD) are turned down the first time they apply. In fact, only about 30 percent of claims are approved the first time. If you fall into the 70 percent of disabled people who are turned down the first time, don't make the mistake of reapplying. You will just get denied again. And don't give up. Rather, you should file an appeal to have your case reconsidered.

There are four stages of appeal for SSD benefits. The first, called Reconsideration, is a review of your case by your state's Disability Determination Services. Only 15 percent of appeals at this stage are approved. In the past decade, many states have experimented with eliminating the Reconsideration step to speed up the process. Depending on where you live, you may or may not have this option. Although the ultimate fate of this experiment has not been decided, there is discussion of forcing states to end the experiment and go back to using the Reconsideration step to slow down the process and reduce the workload for hearing officers.

The second stage of an appeal is a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Claimants do not have to appear at the hearing, but may if they wish. About 50 percent of appeals heard by ALJs are approved.

The third stage is an Appeals Council Review by the Office of Disability Adjudication. This is not a review of the merits of your case, but rather an evaluation of the decision by the ALJ at the previous stage of the appeals process. This can take up to two years, as only one office, in Falls Church, Virginia, handles appeals at this stage of the process. The Appeals council can affirm the decision of the ALJ, remand the case back to the ALJ or reverse the decision and grant benefits. 

The fourth and final step is to file an appeal in district court against the Social Security Administration. If you go this route, you will be leaving the jurisdiction of the Social Security Administration and entering the court system.

Navigating the appeals process is challenging. That is why it is so important to have the help and guidance of experienced SSD advocates such as those at Binder & Binder®, America's most successful Social Security Disability Advocates. If your initial claim was denied, call us right away from anywhere in the United States to learn how we can help with the appeals process.

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