Obtaining Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits is often a challenging process, and unfortunately, many individuals find themselves facing denials. Receiving a denial can be disheartening, but it is crucial to understand that the process does not end there. In this blog post, we will explore what happens next after an SSD denial and the steps individuals can take to navigate this complex situation.
Understanding SSD Denials: Before discussing the next steps, it is important to understand why SSD denials occur. The Social Security Administration (SSA) may deny a claim for various reasons, such as insufficient medical evidence, errors in the application or failure to meet specific eligibility criteria. It is not uncommon for deserving individuals to face initial denials, and it is crucial not to be discouraged.
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Requesting Reconsideration: In Pennsylvania, upon receiving a denial, the first step is to request reconsideration. Not all states will have reconsideration, so it is important to know your state laws. This involves asking the SSA to review the decision based on additional information or clarifications. Individuals have a limited timeframe within which they must submit their request, so prompt action is required.
Administrative Law Judge Hearing: If the reconsideration is also denied, the next level of appeal involves requesting a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This is a critical juncture in the appeals process, providing applicants with an opportunity to present their case in person. It is advisable to seek legal representation at this stage to navigate the complexities of the hearing effectively.
Appeals Council Review: If the ALJ denies the claim, the next step is to request a review by the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council will examine the proceedings to ensure proper legal procedures were followed. While the council may decide to approve the claim, it can also uphold the denial. If the denial is upheld, individuals can proceed to the final stage of appeal.
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Federal Court Review: The last resort for SSD applicants is seeking a review from the federal court. This involves filing a lawsuit against the SSA in a federal district court. Legal representation is almost mandatory at this stage due to the intricate legal processes involved. The court will review the case independently, assessing whether the SSA’s decision was based on substantial evidence and followed proper legal procedures.
Getting Help with Social Security Disability Benefits
Facing SSD denials is undoubtedly a challenging experience, but it is important to persevere through the appeals process. Seeking legal guidance, maintaining detailed records and understanding each stage of appeal are important elements for navigating the complex SSD system. Remember, a denial is not the end, it is a step in the process toward securing the benefits that individuals rightfully deserve.
If you have been denied benefits, contact the lawyers of Berger and Green for a free case evaluation.