Social Security disability benefits is one way to secure yourself financially if you’re unable to work as a result of injury or illness.
Millions of people rely on Social Security benefits, but what happens if your Social Security disability claim gets denied?
In today’s post, we explore your options if your Social Security disability claim has been denied.
Let’s begin by looking at Social Security’s definition of disability.
Social Security’s Definition of Disability
Social Security uses a strict definition of disability which excludes both short-term disabilities and partial disabilities.
Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or for short-term disability.
“Disability” under Social Security is based on your inability to work.
You are considered to have a disability under Social Security disability requirements if:
• You cannot do work you did before.
• You cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s).
• Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.
The program rules assume working families have access to other resources to provide support during periods of short-term disabilities including:
- Workers’ compensation
It’s mainly because of this strict definition of disability that the Social Security Administration initially denies two-thirds of all disability claims.
So, what are your options if your Social Security disability claim is initially denied?
Once initially denied, many claimants tend to entirely give up on the process.
However, this is a mistake because if you have to file an application in the years to come, you will have to start the whole process from scratch.
Filing A Brand New Social Security Disability Claim
Many claimants also make the mistake of starting over with a brand new claim after they receive a notice of a disapproved claim.
If you file a new claim immediately after a prior claim has been disapproved, most likely it will be denied again.
This is because nothing changes in the process. A new claim is usually decided by an initial claims examiner at Disability Determination Services who will probably look at the exact same medical evidence and reach the same conclusion as the first disability examiner.
Filing a brand new Social Security disability claim also means you may potentially lose a substantial amount in disability back pay because of your new filing date.
For these reasons, the option of starting over with a brand new Social Security disability claim is also not advisable.
File An Appeal Immediately After Being Denied
You should call your local Social Security office to request an appeal of your disability medical decision if you are continuing to have significant impairments from your medical conditions which:
- Cause you to have significant functional limitations.
- Prevent you from working if you are an adult.
- Prevent you from engaging in age-appropriate activities if you are a child.
You should call immediately after you receive your denial notice because there is a deadline of 60 days in which to file an appeal.
If you have a disability lawyer, he or she can file your appeal on your behalf.
However, it’s important to call your disability lawyer as soon as you receive written notice of your denial.
Generally, your lawyer should receive a copy of any notification you receive, but this is not always the case.
Therefore contacting your disability lawyer will ensure your appeal gets filed promptly.
Once your lawyer gets a copy of your notice of denial, he or she may contact you prior to submitting your appeal to see if there is new information to add to the case.
For example, if you have visited your doctor and received a new diagnosis, or if you’ve had new testing, or if your condition has worsened in some way, the lawyer must submit the new information with your appeal.
Your disability lawyer should send you a copy of the appeal paperwork for your records, as well as keep a copy for his or her own file.
This paperwork will likely be used to prepare for a hearing before an administrative law judge at some point.
Copies of submitted paperwork can be extremely important because if Social Security Administration claims to have not received your paperwork, you can verify the date your application was submitted to them.
Keep in mind the disability process may be lengthy, as there are three levels in the appeal process for a denied Social Security disability claim.
- The first level of appeal will be a reconsideration of your disability application.
- The second level of appeal will be a hearing before an administrative law judge.
- The third level is an appeal to the Appeals Council to review the decision of a judge if you have been denied at a hearing. If you are appealing to the Appeals Council, you should also file a new initial claim, as there are few reversals of administrative law judge decisions at the hearing level.
Starting the appeals process as soon as your Social Security disability claim has been denied as well as hiring a disability lawyer can improve your chances of winning your case.
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