The Social Security Appeals Process


The Social Security Administration (SSA) denies about half of the benefit applications it receives each year. This doesn’t mean an individual can’t receive social security disability or SSI benefits. A denied claim can be appealed. Many people appeal a social security benefit denial with the assistance of a social security attorney Kingsport TN. To obtain social security disability benefits, the person must appeal and obtain a favorable decision.

Appealing a Social Security Benefits Denial

A person may be denied benefits for a variety of reasons such as the person hasn’t been disabled long enough. Another reason is they make too much money. However, that make not be correct. If a person denied benefits for a non-medical or medical reason can request an appeal in writing. They must send the written appeal within 60 days of the date they received the SSA denial letter. The individual may also complete Form SSA-561 and return it to the SSA.

The SSA has Four Appeal Levels

When the SSA sends their denial letter, it will also provide instruction on how to appeal. This will inform the person of the appeals level they must pursue to get their benefits. For example, reconsideration is one level. During the reconsideration level, the SSI or disability claim is looked at again. The first person who made the decision is not allowed to look the claim again. The second person will make a new decision based on the claim and any new evidence. The individual appealing the denial isn’t present when the reconsideration is made.

A Hearing is the Second Level of Appeal

If the reconsideration results in another denial, a person can take the next step. A hearing is conducted by someone not part of the two prior decisions. They are called an administrative law judge. The person seeking benefits should be present for this hearing. Evidence is presented, and witnesses are examined. The judge will make the decision based on the information and testimony presented.

An Appeals Council is the Third Level of the Appeals Process

If a judge denies the claim, a person can seek an appeal via the SSA’s appeals council. It will review all the information such as the claim. The council may decide the case or return it to the second level for a re-determination. Whether the council decides to review the case, it is denied again or sent to the second level, the individual receives a letter about the decision.

The Last Level is Called Federal Court

If the Appeals Council denies the claim or doesn’t review the case, the individual may file a lawsuit. This lawsuit is filed in federal district court. It is important to hire a disability attorney prior to the claim being denied. An attorney may be able to help the individual avoid some common mistakes that get a disability claim denied. However, a disability attorney can also be hired immediately after receiving a denial letter. They can explain the reason for the denial and how to fight for and receive social security benefits.

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