Many people in the San Diego area who apply for Social Security disability benefits are already in somewhat of a desperate situation. Their health is failing, and they are unable to work to earn enough to make ends meet. Social Security benefits may seem like the lifeline needed to get by financially. Unfortunately, most initial applications for SSD benefits are initially denied. However, there is a four-step appeal process for those denied benefits.
Step 1: Reconsideration
After your initial application for SSD benefits is denied, you have 60 days to appeal by filing for reconsideration. In the reconsideration process, an SSD representative who was not involved in the first review of your application will examine your application along with any other medical records or evidence supplied and will make a second decision regarding your application for benefits.
Step 2: ALJ Hearing
If your application for benefits is denied at reconsideration, the next step is to apply for a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). This hearing may take up to one year to schedule due to backlogs in the appeal process. At your hearing you can be represented by an attorney. The judge will consider all evidence previously submitted as well as new evidence submitted before the hearing. After hearing all evidence, the ALJ will decide whether to approve your application for benefits or deny your application for benefits.
Step 3: Appeals Council
If the ALJ denies your application for benefits, the third step in the appeals process is to submit your application to the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council will review all evidence submitted to the ALJ and will either deny your request, approve your request or send your application back to an ALJ for further consideration. The Appeals Council has the discretion as to whether to consider a request for review.
Step 4: Federal Court
If your application is denied at the Appeals Council, the final step in the appeals process is to submit your application for review by the Federal Court.
Do not lose hope if your initial application for SSD benefits is denied
It is easy to get discouraged if your initial application for SSD benefits is denied. After all, you are relying on these benefits to make ends meet and a denial may make it seems like the deck is stacked against you. However, you do have multiple opportunities to appeal a denied claim, hopefully leading to an eventual acceptance of the SSD benefits you are entitled to.