It can be very disappointing and frustrating to put all of your effort into applying for Social Security disability benefits, only to have your application denied. In fact, the majority of individuals in Pennsylvania, and nationwide, who apply for SSD benefits may find that their initial applications are not approved. However, do not lose hope. There is an appeals process that individuals seeking benefits can pursue in such situations.
In general, the first step in the appeals process is to submit a Request for Reconsideration. In this step, the applicant's medical records will be reviewed by a second individual to determine whether or not to approve the applicant for benefits. This step can be completed online.
If an individual's disability application is still denied, they can pursue a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. This step can be completed via teleconference or in person. At the hearing, the applicant can present his or her case to an Administrative Law Judge, who will then issue a written determination as to whether or not to approve the applicant for disability benefits.
If an applicant is not successful at the hearing, he or she can seek an Appeals Council Review. Here, the individual's medical records and arguments as to why he or she should be awarded benefits will be taken into consideration by the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. After the Appeals Council makes its decision, the applicant will be informed in writing.
Finally, an individual can pursue a U.S. District Court Review. In this step a district court judge will go over the applicant's administrative record to see if the previous decisions were wrongly made and therefore should be vacated. If this happens, the applicant's case will go back to the Social Security Administration for a new decision.
Naturally, the entire appeals process can be both intimidating and overwhelming, especially if you are unfamiliar with the process and laws involved. Therefore, individuals who want to appeal the SSA's decision regarding their application for disability benefits can work with an attorney every step of the way. The legal team at Jeffrey S. Lichtman, LLC, understands how important it is for their clients to have their application for benefits approved. Their overview of the SSDI appeals process may help individuals who are facing a denied application for benefits determine how to move forward.