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A discussion of the SSD benefits appeals process

When a San Diego resident's Social Security disability benefits application is denied by the Social Security Administration that applicant has a limited window of time during which he may request a reconsideration of his application. Requests for reconsideration and supporting documentation may be submitted online, though in some cases an individual may wish to have his case reviewed on a more detailed level.

There are four levels of review during the disability benefits appeals process. A first level review occurs when a person not involved in the initial review of a case looks over the evidence to determine if a mistake was made in the denial of the applicant's benefits request. Most reviews do not require the applicant to be present, and applicants are notified after the fact of the reviews' outcomes.

A second level review occurs when an applicant is granted a hearing with an administrative law judge. During a hearing an applicant may bring a legal representative with him and may offer the testimony of witnesses to bolster his case. A third level review occurs when a second level hearing results in a denial of claims, and the applicant elevates the review to the Appeals Council.

The Appeals Council can take one of two actions. It may concur with the administrative law judge who presided over the hearing and confirm the denial of the applicant's claims, or it may require the matter to be reheard to sort out any potential problems that may have contributed to the applicant's denial of benefits. In the event the applicant's case is denied by the Appeals Council he can take his matter to the final level of review, which is to have it reviewed by a federal court.

The appeals process through the Social Security Administration and court system can be difficult. Individuals who wish to take the cases up the chain of review can benefit from utilizing the services of attorneys who include Social Security disability law in their practices.

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