You have a disabling injury that keeps you from earning enough to support yourself, and you filed a claim for Social Security disability benefits to help you pay your bills. Even though you know you have a disability that prevents you from working, the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies your claim. This is a common scenario; less than 20% of claims are approved at the application stage. If you receive benefits, you may later receive notice that the SSA denied the continuance of your benefits.
While a claim denial may be concerning, you should remember that you can appeal a denial. The appeals process is not a simple one, however, and you should always have a qualified Social Security lawyer representing you during your appeal.
There are different levels of Social Security disability benefit appeals. Within the 60 days after receiving an initial denial, you can request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). These are judges who work for the SSA and will review your claim to make an independent decision. You can provide testimony at the hearing, bring witnesses to testify, as well as provide any supporting documents you want to submit to support a disability finding. The ALJ will then issue a written decision.
The ALJ does not have the final word on the approval or denial of your claim, although it is clearly your best chance to get an award of benefits because the Appeals Council and District Court have become more and more stingy in recent years. If the ALJ denies your claim after the hearing, you can ask the Appeals Council to review your case. The Appeals Council will look for any of the following:
● Procedural or policy error or issue in your case
● The ALJ made a legal error
● The ALJ abused their discretion
● There was insufficient evidence to support the ALJ’s decision
If the Appeals Council believes the ALJ was wrong, they typically remand the case back down to that ALJ for another hearing. If the Appeals Council denies your claim, you can then file an appeal in Federal District Court. A federal judge will review the facts of your case and identify any legal errors leading to previous denials or mistakes regarding factual questions. The judge may then uphold the denial, reverse the denial, or remand the case back to the SSA to consider certain issues and make a new decision.
Call for Help from an Experienced California Social Security Attorney Right Away
At the Kenneth G. Marks Law Firm, we help with every stage of the claims process, from preparing and filing the initial claim to appealing denials. Please call 949-748-6470 or send us an email to schedule your free consultation to learn more about how we can assist you with your Social Security benefits claim.