After having your Social Security Disability benefit claim denied, it is normal to feel extremely disappointed. How will you make ends meet? What options do you have if you can’t work because of your condition? How can you fight back? You deserve benefits for your debilitating medical condition.
Most people know that they need to file an appeal when their claims are denied by the Social Security Administration. What they may not realize is that the appeal process can be complex and can last for many months.
Much like appealing a ruling in a civil or criminal court case, there are multiple stages of appeals available to those who find their initial request for Social Security Disability denied.
The first stages: Reconsideration and review by an administrative law judge
After the rejection of an initial application, the first stage in this process involves having a formal reconsideration. If that doesn’t result in an approval, you can plead your case before an administrative law judge.
This judge will review the application and rejection. Sometimes, it is simply a lack of evidence or a mistake on the paperwork that caused the initial rejection. Those scenarios are relatively easy to correct. An administrative law judge (ALJ) may then decide to rule in your favor and award the benefits you need.
Next stage: The Appeals Council
However, if the administrative law judge does not approve your claim, that doesn’t mean the appeals process is over. You may then ask for a review by the Social Security Appeals Council. The Appeals Council reviews the decision and may send your claim back to the ALJ for reconsideration or may make a decision. If this third attempt is unsuccessful, it is possible to ask the federal courts to hear your case.
When does it make sense to go before a federal court?
In general, the Appeals Council and the administrative law judge will look at the initial application and the resulting ruling to make sure that everything complies with SSD rules. However, there may be exceptions and circumstances that warrant an approval of your claim. An appeal to a federal court may be needed to get you the benefits you deserve.
The federal courts have the authority to review your claim and determine if your situation is an exception. Perhaps there was a misinterpretation of the laws or rules at a lower stage in the process. The truth is that you want to exhaust every option available before you give up on securing the disability benefits that will help you make ends meet for the foreseeable future.