Statistics released by the Social Security Administration (SSA) reveal that the agency received more than 2.5 applications for benefits in 2014. About a third of those applications were automatically denied due to technicalities. Meanwhile, DisabilityBenefitsCenter.org reports that 70% of applications are denied after the initial evaluation.
While these figures can be disheartening for many claimants, a social security disability lawyer in Charlotte, NC or anywhere else will tell you that there is still some hope. The SSA wants to make sure that every decision they make concerning disability claims is correct, which is also why they allow denied claimants to appeal the decision.
There are four ways to appeal a denied claim according to the 4-level appeals process of the SSA: (1) Reconsideration, (2) Hearing, (3) Appeals Court, (4) Federal Court. Appealing is a step-by-step process, which means you can’t move on to the last level the moment you are denied the first time.
Once you receive your notice of denial from the SSA, you can immediately request for reconsideration. This time, they’ll have to leave it to someone who did not have a part in the first decision. It would mostly just involve reviewing your files again and any new evidence that has come to light. If you are denied again, you can move on to step two.
Step two is asking for a hearing that will be conducted by an administrative law judge (ALJ). This should be done 60 days after receiving your notice of denial. The chances of winning an appeal at this stage are not always high, however. According to DisabilityJuges.com, July 2015 statistics show that North Carolina ALJs approve only about 47 percent of the claims they handle. In short, you will need a capable lawyer’s help.
If denied a third time, you can appeal yet again. This time, you’ll be doing it in the Appeals Council. Going this route is even more difficult because the Appeals Council is infamous for denying requests if it believes that the initial decision was correct, although claimants can directly go to Federal Court to appeal again if they are denied again.
The next and last step of the appeals process is filing a lawsuit in a U.S. federal district court. Federal Judges handle such cases without the need for juries. Although there is a relatively a higher chance of winning in the federal court, it is often time-consuming and more complicated. It would be best to retain a Charlotte, NC social security disability attorney from trusted firms such as Jan Dils Attorneys at Law, L.C. to guide you through.
The Social Security Disability Process Visualized: From Application to Award, Disability Secrets, NOLO
The Appeals Process, Social Security Administration
Social Security Disability: Four Levels of Appeal, NOLO
Charlotte, North Carolina ODAR Office, DisabilityJudges.com
What is Social Security Disability?, DisabilityBenefitsCenter.org
Selected Data From Social Security’s Disability Program, SSA.gov