Social Security Disability benefits are provided to those individuals who are unable to work due to a disability. Being eligible for Social Security Disability Income, often referred to as SSDI, requires proof of a qualifying disability. The federal statutes define exactly what the term “disability” means. However, even if you are able to prove that your medical condition qualifies, your claim still may not be approved by the Social Security Administration. If your claim is denied, your next step is to appeal. Here is some great advice on appealing your disability denial from our Joplin disability lawyer.
You are Required to Prove Your Disability when You First File Your Claim
The term “disability” is defined by the Social Security Act as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. There are several factors that the Social Security Administration considers when determining whether the medical condition you claim actually qualifies you for benefits. This includes determining whether your condition is severe enough to warrant an award of benefits. The Social Security Administration also considers the applicant’s age, education and work experience in determining whether he or she can still perform the work previously performed. Your Joplin disability lawyer can assist you in providing all the information you need the first time.
What is the Next Step if Your Application is Denied?
If you receive a denial of benefits letter from the Social Security Administration, there is still hope. You can always appeal the decision. An appeal must be submitted in writing within 60 days from the date you receive the denial, and there is a presumption that you received the letter within five days after it was sent. After a denial, there are three levels of appeal that can be navigated: a hearing by an administrative law judge, review by the Appeals Council, and finally, review by a federal court.
What Should I Expect at My Appeals Hearing?
The basic purpose of the first appellate step, the appeals hearing, is to re-examine the “disability” issues. These typically include whether you are disabled when your disability began and whether it has ended. The Administrative Law Judge, who presides over the hearing, will be a neutral party who was not involved in the initial denial of your claim. At the hearing, you will have the opportunity to present your case in person and provide new information to support your claim. You are also allowed to bring witnesses to testify on your behalf. After reviewing the evidence submitted at the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge will issue a written copy of his decision. Be sure to let your Joplin disability lawyer review the decision as soon as you receive it.
Requesting Another Review by the Appeals Council
If you are again denied benefits, following the appeals hearing, you can request further review by the Social Security Appeals Council. The Council will consider the request for review but is not required to review your claim if it agrees with the Administrative Law Judge’s decision. Otherwise, the Council can either decide your case itself or require the ALJ to look at the case again. The Council’s decision will be sent to you in writing. Again, let your Joplin disability lawyer review the letter as soon as you receive it.
Appealing to the Federal Court is Your Last Option
If the Appeals Council upholds the Administrative Law Judge’s denial of your claim, or if they refuse to review your case at all, you can file a lawsuit in federal court. You only have 60 days from the Council’s decision to file the lawsuit. The SSA cannot assist you in filing the lawsuit, so it is wise to obtain legal representation at this point if you haven’t already. This part of the appeals process can take at least a year to complete. At this point, there are three possible outcomes: the case can be remanded to the ALJ for reconsideration; the court can affirm the ALJ’s decision, to deny your claim; or the court can reverse the ALJ’s decision and award you social security benefits. If you think you may qualify for Social Security Disability Income, you need a social security attorney who understands the Social Security system, and how to submit an application that will be approved, or will work hard to obtain the benefits you deserve on appeal.
If you have questions regarding Social Security Disability appeals or any other Social Security Disability matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 616-6356.