Finding out that your SSD claim has been denied can be an overwhelming experience for any disabled worker. This is especially the case when you consider the financial toll that your disability has already had on you and your household. However, it is important to remember that an initial denial does not necessarily mean it is the end of the line.
Identify and Target the Reason for the Denial
Once you have regained your composure regarding the fact that your application was denied, do your best to focus on finding and understanding the reason for the denial. It will likely be referenced within the documentation received regarding the denial of your claim.
Your goal then should be to build a case that refutes their related arguments. You will need to gather the supporting documentation as evidence and perhaps seek legal advice from a licensed attorney to solidify your response even further.
File an Appeal Before the Provided Deadline
A common mistake made by many applicants who were denied SSD benefits is the extensive delay in submitting the paperwork. Generally, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will give you 60 days from the date of the rejection notice to file an appeal. If the appeal is not filed within that timeframe, you raise the risk of losing your right to appeal – which would then lead to the finalization of your rejected claim.
Fortunately, you can request an appeal online in most cases even if you do not live in the U.S. If you prefer to avoid the online route, then you can get the necessary paperwork from the SSA website or call the toll-free number for your local Social Security office to start the process.
Depending on the circumstances that caused the delay, you may be able to request an extension. However, this request must be made in writing and be sent long before the 60-day window closes.
Pay Attention to Incoming Calls and Correspondence
Once you have filed a request for reconsideration, you should make it a practice to pay close attention to incoming calls and correspondence. You may be in the habit of screening phone calls or even ignoring phone calls and letters from unknown sources. However, during this process, you mustn’t allow these communications to slip through the cracks. The SSA will likely respond to your request for consideration.
If your request is based on the determination of qualifying disabilities, then you may receive a letter from the State Disability Determination Services (DDS) as they handle the reconsideration. If further evidence is required (especially in the case of a nonmedical issue), then you will likely be contacted by the local office assigned to handle your appeal.
Your timely response to these calls and correspondence will improve your chances of having the denial reversed in your favor. On the other hand, your failure to comply or communicate could lead to the denial becoming final.
Educate Yourself on the Appeal Process Levels
There is still a chance that your reconsideration request will be denied regardless of the evidence collected or the timeliness of your response. Fortunately, there are several additional levels to the appeal process that you can still explore:
- Form HA-501: Hearing conducted by an administrative law judge
- Form HA-520: Review conducted by an Appeals Council
- Review held by the Federal Court
The administrative law judge would essentially have “fresh eyes” with the appeal since he or she would not have been part of the initial determination or the reconsideration. They would closely examine all the evidence (supporting and opposing) before making their decision. You will be notified by the hearing office of the date and time for this hearing.
If the case is escalated to the Appeals Council, then they would either return your case to another administrative law judge or submit a new decision. In more extreme yet rare situations where the appeal reaches the Federal Court, then filing a civil action may lead you to the desired result.
If Your SSD Claim Was Denied, We Can Help
The process of appealing a denied SSD claim is confusing, difficult, and time-consuming. The key is to make sure that you have solid evidence to back you up when first submitting your claim.
A Social Security disability lawyer at Ascend Disability can help you prepare your SSD application, increasing the chance of it being approved the first time around. We can also help you appeal a denied claim. Contact us today for a free consultation.