Many people go through the process to apply for Social Security disability benefits and get denied the first time. If this has happened to you, there is still hope because you can appeal the decision. There are four main levels of an appeal that you need to understand to increase the likelihood successfully overturning a denial of benefits.
In most states, you’ll begin the process with a formal request for reconsideration as soon as you’ve received your denial. Some states skip right to the second level of an appeal, the hearing stage. In either case, your denial letter will supply the information that you need to begin the process. There is about a 5 to 10 percent chance that your appeal will be granted at this level.
Your next step is to request a hearing within 60 days of the denial of your first appeal. The hearing, which you’ll need to be present for, will take place before an administrative law judge. Statistically, administrative law judges grant about 67% of the claims that come before them.
If you are one of the unfortunate ones that lose at their disability hearing, your next step will be to request that the Appeals Council review your case. It’s highly unlikely that the denial will be successfully reversed at this level.
The final step is to appeal the decision to the U.S. District Court. If you don’t have an attorney, it is highly recommended that you hire one for this step. The court usually only reviews cases for legal errors, but sometimes will also consider factual errors. Your likelihood of successfully appealing a denial of benefits at this level is about 33%.
Understanding what to expect is the first step to successfully appealing a denial of your disability benefits. An experienced social security disability lawyer is able to assist you at any level of appeal, and will further increase the likelihood of winning the benefits that you deserve.