If you have been waiting for months and months to see if the Social Security Administration will grant you disability pay, you more than likely are upset when you receive notice your disability claim has been denied. However, you are far from alone. Illinois Social Security offices reject about 70% of disability claims each year.
Your best chance of having your Social Security disability claim approved is to file an appeal. Yet it’s important to have a better understanding of the appeal process. Otherwise, you could have your appeal denied because of a simple error or missing an important claim deadline.
Working with an attorney
One of the best ways to get your Social Security disability claim approved is to work with an attorney who has experience dealing with those claims and appeals. An attorney who has dealt with cases similar to yours and who understands successfully advocating for Social Security Disability can help you. They can ensure you’ve provided proper documentation of your disability. They can fill out the needed paperwork properly.
An attorney also can keep track of important claim deadlines, including requesting an appeal within 60 days of your initial claim denial. Finally, an attorney can help prepare your claim for an administrative judge hearing and further appeals if needed.
Requesting an administrative law judge hearing
Part of filing an appeal for Social Security disability benefits is requesting a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ). The ALJ will not have reviewed your claim before and you will learn more about why Social Security denied your claim. You also can submit new evidence to bolster your claim before the hearing. You may also have your doctor submit additional evidence for the hearing to support your claim.
Requesting an appeals council review
If the administrative law judge still rejects your appeal, you can request that an appeals council reviews your disability claim. The council may deny your request, agreeing with the administrative law judge’s decision. Or the appeals council could review your claim further.
Filing a suit in federal court
If the appeals council dismisses your appeal review or denies your claim, you have the option of filing a federal lawsuit. The district court could:
- Send your appeal back to an administrative law judge for a new hearing.
- Direct the Social Security Administration to approve your claim.
- Deny your claim.
Filing an appeal for a Social Security Disability claim is complicated and can take months to resolve. Understanding the process and working closely with an experienced attorney can help speed up the process and give you the best chance for getting your claim approved. Scott Dixon, a partner in the firm Dixon & Johnston, has been handling Social Security Disability cases for over 30 years.