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Question of the Month:
If I am denied Social Security Disability benefits, what are my options?

November 6, 2018

If the Social Security Administration (SSA) says you are not disabled and denies your initial claim (and the majority of initial claims are denied), you have a right to appeal that decision.

A reconsideration is the appeal to your initial denial. Disability Determination Services will do another complete review of your claim by someone who did not take part in the first decision. SSA will look at all the evidence submitted when the original decision was made, plus any new evidence. The reconsideration process can take several months.

To have your case reconsidered, you must complete and return the proper Social Security forms. You have 60 days from the letter of denial date to file for reconsideration. If you wait more than 60 days, you will likely have to start the benefits application process all over again.

If your claim is denied again under reconsideration (as almost 90% of them are), you may request a hearing. Again, you will have 60 days to file this appeal. The hearing will be conducted by an Administrative Law Judge who had no part in the original decision or the reconsideration of your case. This is the best opportunity to present your case, because you get to tell your story in person.

Do not delay in filing a request for a hearing. If you miss the deadline, you will likely be required to file a new application. Generally, this is a waste of your time, because you will be forced to go through the whole time consuming process again, and you could lose out on a substantial amount of benefits. In addition, depending on your work history, if you miss the deadline to appeal, you may be barred forever from filing another disability claim.

At NDL, we often hear potential clients tell us that they did not appeal on time because they did not have all of their medical records. You do not need to have all of your medical records in order to file an appeal. It is best to appeal first to protect the date, as you will have another opportunity to submit evidence after the appeal is filed.

Our best advice is to consult with an experienced local disability law firm which can help evaluate your case and fight for your rights in the appeals process. A 2017 Government Accounting Office (GAO) study found that if a Social Security disability claimant had a representative, they were three times more likely to be allowed benefits than someone who had no representation at all.

So the bottom line is this: if your disability claim is denied, file an appeal and get proof as soon as possible, or contact a Chicago Social Security law firm such as Nash Disability Law to file an appeal. If you wait, you could lose out on benefits.

For a free evaluation of your case contact us at Nash Disability Law.