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Denied Disability? Here are Your Next Steps

So, you’ve received the dreaded notice that your disability application has been denied. You wallow in self-pity and wonder what you are going to do from here. How are you going to pay the bills and support your family if you can’t work or get any governmental assistance? Fret not because it isn’t the end of the line for you.If you do get a denial, then it’s time to pull yourself together and fight for your rights. The following are your next steps following a disability claim denial.

1.Look over your case.
The first step is to figure out where you went wrong. Look at all your documents. Did you forget to submit anything? Do you have all of the relevant medical records? Do you have all the doctors written down? Sometimes, the problem may simply be clerical. Otherwise, consider going to a advocate so that he can look over our case. Some advocates offer free consultations, but look into several choices before making a decision so you know you are getting the best representation for your money.
2. Apply for appeals

After your initial denial, you have the choice to appeal the decision within 60 days from the date you receive the letter. You can apply online or call the 1800 number listed here. Now if the first appeal is still denied, you can appeal again but at a higher level.The appeal process stretches to four levels: Reconsideration, Administrative Law Judge Hearing, Appeals Council Review, and Federal Court Action.

  • Reconsideration- If you disagree with your initial rejection, you can file for Reconsideration. In this process, a whole new party reviews your case, including any new information. Usually, you do not have to be present for this process.
  • Hearing- Upon denial of benefits after Reconsideration, you then ask to appear in front of an administrative law judge who has no prior experience with your case. He will once again review your file and can call witnesses such as medical and vocational professionals. The judge will also question you (so you’ll have to be present). Usually, the hearing will take place within 75 miles of your home. In certain cases, a video conference can suffice. If you can’t or don’t want to attend your hearing, write a letter and explain why. The judge will either require your presence or not or make other arrangements.
  • Appeals Council- If you still believe that you deserve benefits, but have been denied by the judge, you can then request a review from the Appeals Council, who then looks over the case and decides to either decide your case itself or send it to another judge.
  • Federal Court- If the Appeal’s Court refuses to review your case, your final chance for benefits is to file a lawsuit in a federal district court. The information about how to do this will be included in the Appeal’s Council’s decision letter.

Learn more about each process in detail by reading “The Appeals Process” document on the SSA website.

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