The Social Security Disability Appeals Process–
As one of Orange County’s to Social Security law firms, our lawyers have helped thousands of men and women obtain the Social Security Disability benefits for which they qualify. In this article, our lawyers help you understand the many steps involved in applying for Social Security Disability, and appealing your case if you are denied.
Applying for Social Security Disability
After you file your initial Social Security Disability application, your case will be reviewed by a disability examiner. Usually, within two to four months you’ll get a determination. A large portion of applicants are denied at this point – but this is not “the end of the story”. You then have the right to file an appeal called a “reconsideration,” which involves a review of the original claim. .
The reconsideration appeal can be filed with or without a lawyer. But if you were denied once without a lawyer, you are very likely to be denied again on appeal if you still do not have a lawyer.
If your local Social Security office determines that you are not disabled and denies your “reconsideration”, your next step is to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. This can take several more months – in some cases from six to eighteen months. (This amount of time varies by county depending upon current caseloads).
When you eventually get your hearing in front of the Administrative Law Judge, your disability lawyer has the opportunity to actually “argue” your case in person, which means there is a much higher chance of winning benefits. After you and your lawyer appear for a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge will evaluate the medical documentation you have supplied of your disability. If the Judge rules in your favor, you get your benefits. Having an attorney to properly submit the required documentation can greatly improve your chances of a favorable decision.
Hiring a Lawyer for Social Security Appeals
However, if the Administrative Judge denies your claim, the next step is to file an appeal with the Social Security Appeals Council. We strongly recommend that you always retain an attorney at this point, as a technical letter or brief is required – including a lengthy discussion of the judge’s decision that is highly specific in nature.
The Social Security Appeals Council decision to hear your case can take several more weeks or months. They can: (a.) deny your appeal; (b.) grant the appeal and award benefits; OR, (c.) they may send your case back for a new hearing to the Administrative Law Judge, with specific instructions regarding errors in the first decision.
Should you be sent back to a second hearing, you will likely be back before that same Judge who denied your claim originally. If after this second hearing you are still denied benefits, you can still appeal again. In the event that the Appeals Council sends your case back for the third third, then you will likely be granted a different judge.
Alternatively, if the Appeals Council denies your appeal, and indicates they have found no basis to overturn the judge’s decision, then you have the final option of a further appeal in Federal District Court. Many Social Security lawyers will not take a case beyond this point. However, our lawyers believe that, if there is strong medical evidence proving you’re disabled – along with demonstrable errors that provide a basis for challenging the decision -y ou should be able to appeal your case at the federal level.
Orange County Social Security Lawyers
If you have been disabled and you live in Orange County, the greater Los Angeles area or anywhere in Southern California, we offer a free consultation with an experienced California social security lawyer to help you understand your rights and obtain the maximum workers’ compensation or disability benefits. No matter what stage of the process you are in, we are here to offer you free advice and assist you in getting the maximum benefits for which you qualify.