If you applied for Social Security Disability benefits and were denied, you can appeal the decision if you feel you have a qualifying condition. There are four levels of redetermination or appeal. When you want to appeal a decision made, you must do so in writing within 60 days of receiving the denial letter from the Social Security Administration.
The first step after filing a request for an appeal is the reconsideration of your application. During this process, a person who did not take part in the initial review of your application examines your claim, along with the evidence you originally submitted with your initial application and any new evidence. You do not need to be present during the reconsideration phase, but you are welcome to meet with a Social Security representative so you can explain why you believe you have a disability. After your appeal has been considered, you will receive a letter that tells you if you are eligible for disability benefits.
If you do not agree with the reconsideration decision, you have the option to request a hearing by an administrative law judge. The judge in your case is an individual who had no part in the initial decision or reconsideration of your case. Before the hearing, the Social Security Administration may ask you for more evidence or ask you for clarification regarding your condition. You will also have the opportunity to review your file and add new information. During the hearing, the administrative law judge will ask you questions and will question any witnesses you bring. You will also have the opportunity to question any witnesses. When the hearing is over, the judge will make a decision based on all the information provided. The Social Security Administration will then send you a letter regarding the judge's decision.
Review by the Appeals Council
If the administrative law judge's decision is not in your favor, and you wish to continue to pursue a redetermination, you can ask a Social Security Appeals Council to review your claim. The Appeals Council will make a decision regarding your case, return the case to an administrative law judge so it can be reviewed further or deny your case if they feel the hearing decision was correct. You will receive a letter if your case is denied, along with an explanation, a copy of the decision or a copy of a judge's order.
Federal Court Review
The last step in the Social Security Disability redetermination process is filing a civil lawsuit in federal court. If you do take this step, the court can provide you with an attorney for a fee that does not exceed 25 percent of past-due disability benefits if you win the case.
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