If you’ve been denied disability by the Social Security Administration, you may feel resigned to accept the decision. However, most people are denied at the initial and reconsideration level of review. The appeals process is designed to give you another chance in presenting your case, and with the help of a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) attorney, you have a better chance of winning your appeal.
So, where’s the best place to start? There are four basic steps to take after being denied disability.
First, act fast.
Although you may have a long road ahead of you, when it comes to the appeal process, you must take quick action. You only have a 60-day window to file your appeal after being denied benefits. Now is the time to do the research needed on how to appeal, but realize that you are working against the clock, and the ball is in your court.
If you’re outside of the 60 days when you decide to appeal, most of the time you’ll instead have to file a new claim for disability benefits. However, there are opportunities for the Social Security Administration to determine that you had good cause for missing the appeal deadline. If your situation falls into this category, you may be granted an extension for good cause.
Second, hire the right legal team.
Either before you file your appeal or once you’ve started the appeal process, a disability attorney can make all the difference in your case. If you’re in Atlanta, Georgia, the team at Affleck and Gordon has 40 years of experience in winning disability claims and appeals. They can show you what’s missing so that your appeal is complete, and they can make a legal argument out of your appeal. With their help, you’ll be certain to include the most relevant information you need in order to present your best possible case for your appeal. Keep in mind that there are many steps before you’ll get to the hearing, but it’s important to have your case heard in front of a judge in person, because a judge will listen to you and have a better understanding of your case.
Third, file your appeal.
There are several grounds on which a claim can be denied. The first is for medical reasons. In this case, you’ll need to provide additional medical information on your appeal to build your case. You’ll need to complete the request for reconsideration, Form SSA-561, the Disability Report, Appeal, Form SSA-3441, and the Authorization to Disclose, Form SSA-827.
The second, non-medical reasons, consists of several reasons including:
- You were denied another type of benefit, such as retirement or spouse's.
- Your disability application was denied because you did not work long enough.
- You disagree that you received an overpayment that the SSA says you received..
In those cases, you’ll need to provide additional information for your appeal but will only need to fill out the request for reconsideration, Form SSA-561.
Once you’ve retained your attorney and filed your appeal, keep in mind that there are many more steps to complete to get you to an appeals hearing. Most importantly, don't be discouraged--most people get denied on the first two levels of review (the initial and reconsideration level).
Fourth, keep good records.
It’s important that you keep good records of everything to do with your initial claim, your denial, and your appeal. These include all medical records relating to your claim. If you were initially denied for medical reasons, it’s very possible that you didn’t have the sufficient evidence needed to show the severity of your disability. With the right documentation, you are in a much better situation when it comes to winning your appeal.
Some tips for organization include:
- Have a designated area for all of your correspondence with the SSA. This could be a drawer, desk, or box--whatever works for you.
- Retain all medical records.
- Make sure someone else in your household knows where your records are, in case you’re in the hospital or incapacitated in some way.
Once you’ve filed your appeal, you will still likely have a long road to actually receiving your benefits. Be patient and organized. With the right legal team, you are on your way to presenting the best possible case for your appeal.
- In a hearing, the SSA doesn’t have attorneys working on their behalf to prevent you from gaining benefits. By hiring an attorney, you have an advantage. Your attorney must only convince the judge and not face a counter argument against your position.
- Most SSDI recipients receive between $800 and $1800 a month in benefits, depending on how much they paid into Social Security when working.
- Although there are an estimated 40 million disabled Americans today, fewer than 10 million receive SSDI or SSI benefits.
Navigating the Social Security Administration and seeking an SSDI or SSI attorney to assist with your appeal following a denial of benefits doesn’t have to be overwhelming. We understand what you’re going through, as we’ve assisted many others win disability. We can help you, too. We can evaluate your claim, help organize the most important facts of your medical history, and help you present a strong, compelling appeal. At Affleck and Gordon, we’re the experienced Social Security law firm you need.
If your Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income claim has been denied, or you’re thinking about filing and don’t know where to start, Affleck and Gordon can help. We’ve been helping people in Georgia just like you for over 40 years.
Sign up for a free case evaluation here, or call us (404) 373-1649.