The SSDI Appeals Process in a Nutshell
Most people already know it's difficult for those who need it to gain Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides denied applicants with a way to get approved even after they have been turned down. Workers that are unable to work due to medical problems or mental health conditions may have no choice but to pursue the appeal process to the end. Read below to find out more about the SSA claim appeal process and how workers who need support can benefit from legal help.
The first step may be the only step you need to get your benefits approved—depending on how you handle things. Known by many simply as "the appeal," this first step is actually an administrative law judge (ALJ) hearing. This hearing is overseen by an administrative law judge who works for the SSA so they are not neutral parties. What that should mean to you is the need for having your own advocate with you at the hearing. This level of hearing focuses on the reason for your denial and you are advised to have a disability attorney with you.
Your attorney can help you overcome and argue against the SSA's reasoning for denying your claim. If you deserve benefits, most issues can be straightened out at this hearing and you may have your benefits approved without having to take further action.
The Appeals Council
If your attorney can identify errors in the ruling made at the ADJ hearing, the appeals council hearing is an opportunity to fix things. No new evidence of your medical condition can be presented at this level of appeal—the only issues under consideration are those already present at the prior appeal.
Take Legal Action
Some find it necessary to file suit against the SSA if they are unable to get benefits and that puts things in a federal court. This is usually the end of the road when it comes to appeals. A lot is at stake and few can represent themselves in federal court without an attorney. Losing the federal case will result in having to begin the application process again from the beginning. If you find yourself starting over, strongly consider hiring an attorney to assist you with your application could pay off in a big way.
To find out more about the appeals process and to get help with your application, speak to a disability attorney.