I Was Denied Social Security Disability, Now What?

Social Security Disability Applications are usually denied but the system does allow for appeals.

Ask a Disability Attorney

Q: My Application was Denied by Social Security for Disability. Now What?

Architect, Age 53,

A: Your greatest chances of being approved for disability benefits are at the administrative law judge level of appeal. After your claim has been appealed twice (both at the initial claim and reconsideration level) you will eventually have the opportunity to appear before an administrative law judge to make your case for disability. Statistically your chances of being approved at a hearing are right around 50%, depending on where you live.

Some states do not have the reconsideration stage under the ‘prototype ‘ program. The areas where the reconsideration stage are Alabama, Alaska, California (Los Angeles North and West Branches), Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, and Pennsylvania. This program allows denied claims to file for a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge by passing the reconsideration stage. It essentially cuts a whole step out of the appeals process. The time this could save is huge for a claimant who needs benefits sooner than later. This program enacted as Federal Code 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.906, 416.1406. It has been in the trial process for quite a while.

Social Security Administration Denied My Application Now What?

In addition to finally having someone who knows the law look at your case, your chances at the administrative law judge level of increase because medical records tend to be complete at the hearing level. When people apply for benefits, they provide information that allows Social Security to get their medical records. Anytime you are denied update Social Security about any new medical treatment. Documentation of your disabilities paints an accurate and in-depth picture of your conditions. Along the same lines, as times passes the severity of your condition is highlighted to the judge because your condition has lasted since your application until the hearing.

Unlike other levels of appeal, this is the first time that your case is being examined by someone at Social Security that is an expert. At lower levels of appeal, your case is almost given a rubber stamp denial unless you’re nearly dead. At the administrative law judge level, your case is examined by the judge’s staff, which consists of attorneys specializing in disability law, as well as the judge himself. Your case is given a very in depth examination. Sometimes this results in cases being approved without a hearing; in some instances when the judge’s staff reviews a case they will grant disability benefits without a hearing.

Probably the greatest factor contributing to higher approval ratings at the administrative law judge level of appeal is the contribution of attorneys. If you go to a hearing without a lawyer, it’s almost guaranteed that the judge is going to try to get you to reschedule the hearing and get an attorney. A few people are adamant about going without an attorney, but the majority of people at the hearing level have attorneys to argue their case to the judge. Not only does representation know the hearing process and the appropriate questions to ask, but they also assist in the development of your case. It’s unfortunate, but judges often speak down to people who show up without an attorney. If you’re going to go without an attorney, don’t let the judge badger you. You have the right to a hearing – it’s your time to be heard. Be sure to review thoroughly the hearing notice that you receive; it will give you a summary of the hearing process and what you need to prove to win your case. If this seems too confusing our stressful, contact an attorney. Social Security attorneys all work on a contingency fee basis which means they only get paid if they win your case. To learn more about attorney fees in Social Security, check out What is This Going to Cost Me?!