When you’re living with a disability, sometimes a task like visiting the Social Security office in Atlanta, Georgia for your disability hearing can seem fraught with obstacles.
It can feel overwhelming.
It’s not just as simple as attending a hearing. You’ll need to prepare thoroughly in advance. And then there are the logistics of travel--you’ll have to deal with either public transportation or find parking close to the office. If you’re unfamiliar with the office you’re visiting, you may feel additional stress and anxiety before your hearing.
You’ve brought all documents that you thought they needed, but perhaps it wasn’t enough. Maybe the evidence you presented wasn’t what the administration was looking for to approve your claim. Or maybe you did have the right information, but somehow didn’t bring it up because you didn’t realize it was important.
Even with your best efforts, it’s possible that you’ll be denied. When this happens, the SSA would probably prefer if you did not appeal your case. Many people give up at that point. It can be quite a shock to read a confusing denial letter from the SSA, with terminology that you may not be familiar with. Phrases such as ‘while we feel you cannot do your past work, we believe you can adjust to other work”, or “because you can move your arms and legs” as reasons for denying your claim can seem both confusing and irrational.
These reasons the SSA gives for denying your claim initially may have nothing to do with why you are disabled.
When people are issued a denial, they often feel as though they’ve been wrongfully treated, and that the system that denied their claim does not know them as an individual person. After all, they do have health issues that could prevent their ability to work and provide income, food, and housing to themselves and their families. If that’s you, you may feel like you’ve been left out in the cold.
And yet this process doesn’t have to be over just because you’ve experienced a denial. You just need to know what to do next.
Your denial isn’t the end of your claim. For many other people just like you, this is only the beginning. With the right legal partner to guide and advise you along the way, you can turn your initial bad experience at the social security office in Atlanta into successful bid for benefits. How do you do that?
Having the right legal partner is the first step in moving forward after your initial claim is denied by Social Security. After a free case evaluation, we can determine what your best next steps should be. At Affleck & Gordon, we treat each case with individual attention you deserve. We do this in a number of ways.
First, we are established here in the greater metro Atlanta area and throughout Georgia, having handled over 25,000 claims in the past 40 years. We know the local hearing offices, and have represented numerous cases in front of these local judges. We’re experienced right where you need us to be--fighting for your benefits when you have been denied despite having legitimate medical health issues.
Second, we specialize in Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI.) We know what evidence you’ll need to provide to back up your disability claim with medical facts regarding your case. We will give you an honest assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
Thirdly, we truly care about your health, your financial safety, your ability to get quality medical care, and your future. After all, we’ve been fighting for people like you for four decades, right here in Atlanta. We know the system and we know how to fight to turn your original denial into an approval for benefits.
You have rights to representation. And we’re here to help.
It’s important that you contact us as soon as you can following your denial. In order to appeal in most situations, the correct paperwork must be filed within 60 days of your denial. By waiting, you can jeopardize your claim and miss out on the opportunity to appeal, costing you to possibly lose deserved past-due benefits. A timely appeal is critical in any denial from the SSA.
There are four general levels of appeal:
- Request for Reconsideration
- Request for a Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge
- Request for Review by the Appeals Council
- Federal Court Review
How do you know where to start with an appeal for your particular case? We’ll help you evaluate the medical and financial documents that you have and we’ll tell you which documents you need. As your disability attorney, we can help you navigate the possible outcomes from these levels of appeals.
In a reconsideration, you will receive a new adjudicator and they will ask if you have new evidence Reconsideration has a high denial level. If you disagree with the reconsideration, you may request a hearing. But for each step of the way, you won’t be alone. We’re here to counsel you in your decisions in accordance with the law, and to support you as we navigate the system together. It doesn’t have to be difficult. With the right legal partner, you can win your appeal. We’ve won appeals for others, and we can for you, too.
Remember: only approximately 30% of those seeking Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income are approved the first time. The appeal process is a normal part of obtaining benefits for many.
This isn’t a time to give up. It’s a time to contact us for assistance.
Reasons for Denial
When an initial claim is denied, it can be for many reasons. Statistics show that when you’re working with a legal representative, your case is much less likely to be denied. An attorney can help you gather the right documents and meet the criteria for approval. When an attorney helps you with an appeal, they know the ins-and-outs of the system.
Common reasons for denial include:
- Lack of medical documentation
Note that the medical condition itself isn’t the problem--it’s that you don’t have the right paperwork to show the medical details and duration of your disability. Your attorney will know the proper documents that you’ll need and can make sure you have it on appeal. Sometimes, your doctor’s office will not respond to the SSA, which will attempt to get your records at first.
- Prior denials
Many people think filing a new claim on their own is the best thing to do after an initial denial. But the prior denial could hurt you in your next case. It’s best to appeal--not file another claim--with legal representation. There are so many reasons why appealing can be the right decision as opposed to filing a new claim after an initial denial. At the point of appeal we can make sure that a massive and faceless system isn’t standing in the way of you receiving the benefits you deserve.
- Problems with your income
This can be an issue for many reasons. The SSA will decide if your work activity is too much in terms of dollar amounts for you to be considered disabled. This also can prevent you from applying for SSI benefits, as these are needs-based benefits from a public fund, as opposed to SSDI benefits, which are based on taxes you have paid in over your lifetime.
The key to success, when it comes to winning life-changing benefits for you and your family, lie in not giving up after a denial of your claim. Choose Affleck & Gordon to represent you in your appeal, and you’ll have a much greater change for success.
If your Supplemental Security Income claim or your Social Security Disability Insurance claim have been denied, or you’re thinking about filing and don’t know where to start, Affleck & 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.