You’ve been waiting months to hear back from the Social Security Administration about your disability claim. During that time, meeting your family’s basic needs has been a struggle. Finally, you receive a notice, and the news isn’t good. Your application was denied. Now what?
If the U.S. Social Security Administration denied your initial claim for disability benefits, don’t give up. Graham & Graham can help you get your claim approved. The appeals process has several stages, each with its own requirements and complexities. Our experienced Ohio Social Security lawyers can pinpoint the reason for your denial and craft a successful appeal.
You’re Not Alone: Most SSD Claims Initially Denied!
As surprising as that sounds, having an initial claim for Social Security Disability benefits denied is not unusual. In fact, it is the norm. According to data from the Social Security Administration (SSA), over a recent 10-year period, less than 30 percent of claims received an initial award. And over time, initial award rates have declined.
Social Security may issue a medical denial or a technical denial. A medical denial means that the SSA has not found your condition sufficiently disabling to keep you from returning to any type of job. A technical denial has nothing to do with your medical condition. Usually, a technical denial is issued because you have not worked enough in the past to qualify for benefits.
In most cases, when you first file a claim for benefits, you’ll hear back from Social Security within six months. However, Social Security allows some people with serious health problems to have their claims expedited.
If you haven’t yet applied for disability benefits, our lawyers can review your claim for free and possibly help you receive a quicker decision.
First Appeal: Reconsideration
The first step in the SSD appeals process is “reconsideration.” You have 60 days from the date of the denial notice to submit a Request for Reconsideration. Appeals at the reconsideration level may be made online.
During reconsideration, your application is sent to a different disability examiner. Unfortunately, the reconsideration success rate is low. Only around two to four percent of claims that were initially denied receive reconsideration awards. Unless the initial examiner made an error according to SSD guidelines, their decision probably won’t be overturned.
Second Appeal: Administrative Law Judge Hearing
Having your claim denied again on reconsideration allows you to request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). The hearing must be requested in writing within 60 days of the reconsideration denial.
At the hearing, the ALJ evaluates all the evidence on record, as well as additional evidence presented at the hearing. Preparation of your case and testimony are crucial. Most claimants choose to hire an Ohio Social Security disability attorney for their ALJ hearing.
The bad news about ALJ hearings is that you will probably have to wait a year or more to get on the docket. Currently in Ohio, the average hearing wait time is more than 15 months. The good news is that a hearing gives you the best chance at finally getting your claim approved.
By hiring Graham & Graham to represent you at your hearing, your chances of succeeding are even higher. We consistently have success rates for Social Security Disability hearings that are significantly higher than the national average, as well as state averages for Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia.
Appeals After the ALJ Hearing
Understandably, some appeals at the ALJ hearing stage are denied, but they can be appealed to the Social Security Appeals Council. The Appeals Council reviews the ALJ’s decision and may send the case back to the judge to be examined again. The Council may also uphold, reverse, or modify the judge’s decision.
The next to last stage of SSD appeal occurs in federal district court. After a negative decision from the Appeals Council, you have 60 days to file this action in a federal court. If necessary, you may appeal the District Court’s decision.
Get Help With Your Claim From a Zanesville Ohio SSD Attorney
Graham & Graham provides assistance at all phases of the claims process, including filing an initial claim, appeals, and hearings. Your initial consultation is always free-of-charge, and you do not pay us a penny unless we win your case.
Contact Joshua Graham to make an appointment: 740-454-8585.