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My Social Security application was denied, can I appeal?

People in Philadelphia who have applied for social security disability benefits for an injury know that it can be a challenging process. Unfortunately, sometimes a person's claim is denied. However, there is an appeals process in place for applicants to have their claims reviewed. While the following is for informative purposes only, it should give you a better understanding of the Social Security appeals process.

The first level of appeal is reconsideration. In a reconsideration, an person other than the one that initially denied the claim will look over the applicant's claim a second time. They will consider all the evidence that initially accompanied the claim. If the applicant has further evidence regarding their claim, that evidence can be reviewed at this time as well. Usually the applicant does not need to be present during the reconsideration process.

If an applicant's claim is denied again during the reconsideration process, the next step they can pursue is to request a hearing. Hearings are presided over by an administrative law judge who was not involved in either the reconsideration or the initial decision. Applicants may be requested to provide more information about their claim prior to the hearing. At the hearing, the applicant will be questioned and will also be given the opportunity to present expert witnesses on their behalf. If needed, a hearing can also take place via video conference. In most cases, applicants should attend their hearings, along with an attorney if they have one.

If an applicant's claim is denied again after a hearing, they have the opportunity to bring their claim before the Social Security Appeals Council. The Appeals Council will consider all petitions for review, but may not necessarily review all hearing decisions. If the Appeals Council does review the applicant's claim, it will either make a decision on the claim or send it back to the administrative law judge to be reviewed again.

The final avenue for review of an applicant's claim is to file a suit in federal court.

As this shows, there are numerous opportunities for an applicant's Social Security disability claim to be heard and approved. A denied claim can be reviewed again. However, navigating this process can be tricky. It is important for applicants to seek the help they need to make sure that no crucial stone is left unturned.

Source: ssa.gov, "The Appeals Process," accessed Oct. 27, 2014

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Pennsylvania Bar Association Philadelphia Bar Co-Chair SSD Committee Philadelphia Bar Co-Chair SSD Committee