Can I Appeal an SSI or SSDI Denial?
Lafayette Social Security Disability Lawyers Explain the Appeals Process
Even if you meet the requirements for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), it is possible for your claim to be denied at when you first apply. In fact, the Social Security Administration (SSA) estimates that only one third of all initial applications for benefits get approved. Therefore, if you were denied disability benefits, you are in the majority, but your initial denial is not final.
After a denial, you have 60 days to ask for a judge to hear your appeal of the initial denial. While a hearing may be granted if you request a hearing after 60 days in special circumstances, the Social Security Administration is pretty strict about enforcing the 60-day rule. Therefore it is important for you to contact us as soon as you get your initial denial letter. Asking for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and participating in the hearing before the ALJ is much more complicated than the original application process. As a result, many people get the help of an attorney, even if they initially filed for benefits themselves.
Our team of Social Security disability lawyers is committed to helping our clients get the benefits they deserve. Often, that includes standing by you through the Social Security appeals process. Whether you are unable to work due to an accident or a chronic condition, we can help. In a free initial consultation, our attorneys can help you file your appeal and represent you in your hearing before the Administrative Law Judge.
Why Did the SSA Deny My SSI or SSDI Claim?
You may wait months for a decision from the SSA after you apply for SSI or SSDI benefits. A denial after waiting so long is often frustrating and discouraging. However, there are many reasons why your application may be denied, and most of them can be overcome during the appeals process. Reasons for the denial of your claim may include:
- An incomplete or incorrect application. The applications for SSI and SSDI benefits are complicated and mistakes are easily made. However, experienced Social Security disability lawyers can ensure that any mistakes on your application are corrected before your hearing.
- Your disability is not severe enough. The SSA will not grant you benefits unless your injury or condition is serious enough affect you for more than one full year.
- You miss or refuse a medical examination. The SSA may request a consultative examination (CE) before approving your benefits. If you refuse a CE, then it is likely that your benefits will be denied.
- You do not follow doctor’s orders. After an injury, you must complete all therapy and procedures ordered by your doctor (though there are some exceptions).
You lawyer can help you dispute most of these reasons during the appeals process. However, you must file a request for an appeal within 60 days of your denial. Otherwise, you will have to submit another application and possibly wait months for another decision. It is therefore important that you act quickly once you receive notice that the SSA denied your claim.
What Happens During the Social Security Disability Appeals Process?
It can take some time to successfully appeal the SSA’s decision to deny your benefits. In fact, each stage can take months or even years. While wait times vary throughout the country, we generally see a delay of 12-14 months from the date you ask for a hearing to the actual hearing. Only in limited circumstances can this process be sped up. In Louisiana, the Social Security appeals process follows these steps:
- Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. After your initial application is denied, you may request a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. You and your lawyer will appear in court, and can submit additional evidence. You will also testify at the hearing, which will give you a chance to explain your situation and disability. Your lawyer can (and we do here at Galloway Jefcoat) submit a brief outlining your particular case for the judge to review before your hearing.
- Appeals Council Review. If the ALJ denies your claim again, you can appeal that denial to the Social Security Appeals Council. The Appeals Council will review your case and can either take no action (and uphold the ruling of the ALJ), overturn the ruling or send it back for another hearing.
- Federal Court Appeal. If the Appeals Council upholds the original ruling of the ALJ, then you can appeal to the federal court. This process is complicated and is best handled by Social Security disability lawyers.
Each step of the appeals process can take some time. Therefore, you should make sure that you have a strong case with enough evidence to prove that you deserve Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance. This can include gathering medical records, getting expert opinions and preparing your statement. Experienced Social Security disability lawyers can help you collect this paperwork and prepare you for your testimony. Most commonly, if you have a strong case, the ALJ will reverse the original ruling and approve your benefits.
Denied Disability Benefits? Call our Lafayette Social Security Disability Lawyers Today
Dealing with a disabling injury or condition is difficult enough without the stress of appealing an SSI or SSDI denial. If you were recently denied Social Security benefits, the legal team at our personal injury law firm may be able to help. Our Social Security disability lawyers understand the complexities of the appeals process. We can help you file all the correct paperwork and put together a compelling case for your hearing.
You have been paying into Social Security since you started working. Therefore, if you are no longer able to work, then you deserve disability payments. We can help you get them. Contact us online or call our local office to schedule a free consultation in Sulphur, Lake Charles and Calcasieu Parish.