Not everyone in Marietta holds a nine-to-five office job. Some people are not afraid to get their hands dirty during a hard day’s work in fields such as manufacturing, plumbing or construction. These can be lucrative occupations until one day you suffer an injury, such as a back injury, that becomes debilitating. Some back injuries are so severe that you simply cannot work in any profession whatsoever. Such a distressing situation is made worse when you soon find that without an income you cannot pay your bills or even meet your daily living expenses.
When that happens, you may want to apply for Social Security disability benefits. Sadly, most initial applications for SSD benefits are initially denied. While this is disappointing, it is fortunate that the Social Security Administration has a four-step appeals process for those denied SSD benefits.
Appeals process step one: Reconsideration
The first step in the SSD appeals process is called “reconsideration.” In reconsideration, a SSA disability examiner who was not involved in the initial denial of your application will review the application and all evidence submitted. You have the opportunity to submit additional evidence. The disability examiner may ask for specific information or may have you attend a medical exam known as a “consultative exam.” The disability examiner will then review all this information and make a new determination either approving your claim for benefits or denying it.
Appeals process step two: Administrative hearing
If the disability examiner denies your application for benefits at the reconsideration stage, the next step is to have a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). An administrative hearing can take a while to schedule and currently the SSA is offering hearings via telephone or online video hearings. You have the opportunity to submit additional evidence before your hearing. You may also be represented by an attorney at this hearing. The ALJ will consider all evidence submitted before the hearing date and will issue a decision either approving your request for benefits or denying it.
Appeals process step three: Appeals Council
If the ALJ denies your application for benefits, the next step is to submit your application before the Appeals Council for consideration. The Appeals Council has the discretion whether to review an application for benefits. If the Appeals Council does decide to review your application it may either deny it, approve it or send it back to an ALJ for further review.
Appeals process step four: Federal court
If the Appeals Council rejects your application for benefits, the final step in the appeals process is to have the federal court review your application for benefits and issue a decision.
Do not lose hope if your initial application for benefits is denied
Our firm understands how disheartening it is when your initial application for SSD benefits is rejected. However, do not lose hope. You are given further opportunities to have your application approved through the four-step appeals process. With the right help, you can increase your chances of being approved for the benefits you need.