Social Security Disability and the Appeals Process

For individuals unable to work because of injury or illness, it can be extremely challenging to make ends meet. Often, these conditions can require very expensive medical treatment, meaning that any money that they have set aside for the future can disappear very quickly.

Many of these people will apply for Social Security Disability benefits. To be eligible for these benefits, the individual must submit an application to the Social Security Administration. This is the agency that will examine each application and decide whether or not an individual is disabled, and therefore eligible to receive SSD benefits.

However, it is not uncommon for an initial application for benefits to be denied by the SSA. The agency has very strict requirements in place, and if an individual does not submit the necessary information, the agency will not approve the request, no matter how injured or ill the applicant.

What many people do not know is that there still may be options available. Applicants may appeal the SSA’s decision. The first step of the appeals process is a reconsideration, which means that the applicant can request that the SSA take a second look at an application. The agency will have a new person review the case, and determine if benefits are appropriate.

If the SSA denies benefits a second time, individuals may request a hearing. At this hearing, applicants will be allowed an opportunity to present their case in person. This can be a very critical step of the process, and often applicants work with an attorney at this stage.

If the agency denies the request again, there are still opportunities for those seeking approval for benefits. An Appeals Council will review the previous decision, and decide upon benefits for the individual. If they deny the request, applicants may take their case into the courtroom.

This can be a very long and frustrating process, and it is important not to lose hope. While it might be difficult to wait for the applications to be reviewed, know that even if the initial application is denied, SSD benefits may still be awarded at later stages.

Source: The Social Security Administration “How the disability Appeals Process works