What to Do if Your SSD Claim is Denied
If you have received a letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA) denying your claim for disability benefits, you should not give up. Understandably, you may feel somewhat discouraged. But many people with valid disability claims receive initial rejection letters when they first apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits or Social Security Income (SSI) benefits. Obtaining benefits requires determination and perseverance, and help is available.
Many people in North Carolina seek the help of a knowledgeable SSD attorney to file appeals and are successful in securing disability benefits. It is a good idea to speak with a knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible if you are considering an appeal.
Steps to Take if Your Social Security Disability Claim Has Been Denied
If your claim has been denied, you can ask the Social Security Administration to take another look at your case. There are multiple steps in the Social Security Disability appeal process following a denied claim.
- Reconsideration — You can provide the Social Security Administration additional facts about your disability and ask that the Office of Disability Determination Services decide your case again. After a notice of denial, you have 60 days to submit a request asking for a reconsideration.
- Hearing — You can request a hearing at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. An administrative law judge who hears disability claims will consider your appeal. Approximately half of North Carolina disability cases are approved at the hearing stage.
- Appeals Council — Appeals of decisions by administrative law judges are reviewed by the Appeals Council in Falls Church, Virginia. The average length of time to process these appeals is more than a year.
- U.S. District Court — After you have exhausted your administrative appeals, you can file a lawsuit in federal court to obtain benefits.
You may also file an appeal if your claim for Supplemental Security Income cash assistance was denied by Social Security. SSI is a federal assistance program available to low-income individuals who did not pay money into the Social Security system and have few resources.
The quicker you contact an attorney to discuss your notice of a Social Security disability denial, the sooner an appeal can be filed.
Reasons Your SSD Claim May Be Denied
Claims reviewers at the Social Security Administration may have turned down your SSD benefits application for a variety of reasons including:
- An incomplete application
- A claim does not meet non-medical requirements
- Insufficient medical evidence of the extent of the disability
- Your medical condition does not preclude all work activity
- A missed consultative examination
- A missed appointment with SSA
- Technical reasons such as insufficient work credits or too much work income
If your application in incomplete or there is a technical issue, the SSA claims reviewers may send you a denial letter without actually considering your medical eligibility for benefits.
It is important to understand the reason your SSD or SSI claim was denied before pursuing an appeal. You SSI request may be denied because you had too much income. The income limits are very low to qualify for SSI benefits.
An experienced SSD attorney will make sure your application is completed correctly and that technical issues are not disqualifying you. An attorney can make sure that your claim includes full medical documentation of your illness or injury and complete information about your work history. An attorney may help you get an additional medical evaluation to support your claim.
What an SSD Denial Means
A denial means that you have a right to file an appeal if you disagree with the decision. It also means that the clock has started ticking on the amount of time you have to submit an appeal. You have 60 days to ask for a reconsideration.
It is important to recognize that a denial does not mean that you will never qualify for disability benefits. The majority of claims are denied at first. You may qualify for benefits if you file an appeal and address the issues identified in the notice of denial. Most cases are denied initially, often because there was insufficient medical evidence of the disability.
It is important to understand the reason that your claim was denied. The letter from the SSA notifying you of the denial will have a brief explanation of the basis of the denial. A common reason is that the applicant is still able perform some kind of work despite a disability, in the view of the SSA. Simply being unable to do your old job is not sufficient to qualify for disability benefits.
A denial means that it is a good time to contact an experienced disability benefits attorney to evaluate your situation and discuss filing an appeal.
Why Hire a North Carolina SSD Lawyer?
The SSD appeals process is a confusing bureaucratic process with a lot of paperwork and numerous deadlines to keep track of to appeal a denied claim. Attention to detail is important in filing an appeal. Familiarity with the system is helpful as well. Remember that most applications for disability benefits are initially denied.
An attorney who regularly handles SSD appeals will know what to expect and can guide you through the process. Working with a qualified attorney can inspire confidence that you are submitting a well-documented appeal and help you avoid missteps that lead to delays. An SSD attorney will respond to requests from the claims reviewers for additional records or information and keep your application on track.
Our attorneys at Younce, Vtipil, & Baznik, P.A., understand what it takes to meet Social Security’s definition of disabled and what types of evidence the administrative law judges are seeking in order to grant a disability claim. Working with experienced SSD attorneys like Younce and Vtipil can help you present the strongest case for disability benefits.