Social Security benefits are available to disabled individuals who are unable to work, but only as a last resort. The Social Security Administration follows strict guidelines for determining whether a person is eligible for benefits. Application denials must be followed up with a request for reconsideration, which represents the first level within the Social Security appeals process.
The Social Security appeals process consists of four levels. The request for reconsideration is the first level. The administrative hearing is the second level. The third and fourth levels are the appeals council and federal review. Each time an applicant receives a denial at a particular level, he must appeal at the next level in order to have a chance at an approval. The medical documentation provided with an applicant’s initial application carries a lot of weight in terms of what disability reviewers base their decision on. Unless a person can prove he is unable to perform any type of work, Social Security reviewers will most likely deny a request for benefits. Applicants can submit additional documentation each time an appeal request is made.
Request for Reconsideration
After submitting the initial application, applicants receive a letter of determination that states whether an approval or denial was granted. According to Social Security Online, applicants have 60 days from the date of the letter to submit their request for reconsideration appeal. A request for reconsideration is reviewed at the Disability Determination Services office--a local state disability agency--by a team of Social Security representatives. The review team consists of a disability examiner, a hearing officer and a medical or psychological consultant depending on the nature of the disability claim. On average, applicants receive a decision on a request for reconsideration within 30 to 60 days.
DDS Review Process
Disability Determination Services, or DDS, follows procedural guidelines similar to those followed during the initial application review. DDS reviews the initial application along with any medical documentation submitted and may request additional documentation from an applicant. In some cases, the review team will schedule an applicant for further medical or psychological evaluation and may have applicants take a physical examination. As requests for reconsideration typically involve the same review process as the initial application review, there’s a high probability that a claim submitted at this level will be denied. In effect, claimants have a better chance of getting a claim approved at the administrative level where claimants appear before a judge, according to the Social Security Disability Resource Center.
When filing for Social Security disability benefits, claimants have certain rights in terms of receiving a fair and thorough review of their case. Claimants have the right to have a legal representative handle their case during any stage of the application or appeal process. DDS reviewers must follow-up on any additional documentation submitted by a claimant, regardless of whether the documentation was requested or submitted voluntarily. To ensure an objective case review, any members on a reconsideration review team must not have participated in the initial application review process.