The denial is just another step in the process.
You should know going in that a majority of cases are denied when you file your initial request or claim for benefits. Do not be discouraged if you are denied at this early stage of the process. This can have very little to do with whether or not you are validly entitled to benefits.
The initial decision is made by a lower level person inside the bureaucracy of the Social Security Administration. Benefits at the initial stage are very often denied. It is important that you take action immediately upon receiving your initial denial letter from Social Security. If you do nothing, you will lose your ability to receive the benefits that you are entitled to. Do not give up at the initial denial stage, a disability lawyer can help you.
You have only 60 days to appeal a notice of denied claim.
You have only 60 days to appeal a notice of denied claim or a notice of reconsideration determination from Social Security. Your goal should be to get through the initial stages of the process so you can then request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. When you receive your denial letter, this is normally a good time to contact an attorney or Social Security Advocates. You will have 60 days from the date of the denial letter to request a reconsideration of your claim. On reconsideration, the Social Security Administration will assign a different reviewer to look at your claim.
Claims are often denied during this second step of the process.
This may seem like an unnecessary extra step, but unfortunately that is the way the system works. You must file an initial application, have it denied in most cases, then file for reconsideration within 60 days and have the reconsideration denied in most cases (again, with 60 days to appeal) before you can get to the point where your claim can be seriously considered. The next step following the reconsideration stage is a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge. At this level, your case can actually be seriously presented in a cohesive fashion to a judge who will objectively determine whether you are entitled to benefits based on your actual medical condition and functional ability.
Hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge.
The ALJ hearing is the most crucial stage in the process. The earlier stages are important because if you do not make the proper requests or filings within the required times your case may be lost. However, in terms of organizing and presenting your claim, the Administrative Law Judge hearing is the most important. The ALJ stage is where most cases will be awarded benefits if your case is presented in the proper manner and with the proper support for your claimed disability. The Administrative Law Judge owes no deference to the earlier denials and will take a fresh look at your claim and the evidence supporting it.
Your case should be presented in a detailed and organized fashion.
It is crucial that you retain an experienced counsel to represent you at the Administrative Law Judge hearing. Your case should be presented in a detailed and organized fashion. Your medical records and other medical reports should be presented and your best arrangements must be made to support your disabled status. If you lose your case at the Administrative Law Judge level, there are additional appeals that can be taken to the Appeals Council and to the Federal District Court. If you lose at the Administrative Law Judge Hearing level, you will want to decide with your attorney whether a further appeal is appropriate in your case.