One of the most common phrases repeated time after time regarding Social Security Disability benefits is the fact that most initial applications are denied. Less often repeated is the fact that when a Social Security Disability claim is denied, the applicant has the right to appeal the denial and there are various levels of appeal that can be utilized. Additionally, California residents may be surprised to hear that most appeals are successful.
There are four levels of appeal provided by the Social Security Administration. If one level gives an unsuccessful result, it is possible to go the next level as well. The appeal must be filed within 60 days and must be requested in writing.
The first level is reconsideration, whereby someone who had no part in the original decision undertakes a complete review. They will even consider new evidence at this stage. If there is disagreement with the reconsideration decision, then the next level is of a hearing, conducted by an administrative judge who had no part in the two earlier levels of the decision. Additional evidence could be requested prior to the hearing and, once again, new evidence can be presented. The next level of appeal is of a review by the Appeals Council, and the final stage is an appeal to the federal court.
Going through the process may be daunting, which is why many shy away from it. However, the success rate of appeals is quite high and therefore should be considered. However, as evidence plays a key role in proving one's eligibility, it may be beneficial to have an experienced attorney by one's side to ensure all possible steps are taken to get the benefits one deserves.