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Can I appeal after being denied Social Security Disability?

For people in New Jersey who have an injury, illness or condition that they believe warrants an approval for Social Security Disability benefits, it can be a shock if the application is denied. However, there are alternatives to appeal the decision that Social Security Administration as made. Contrary to what many might believe, it is not unusual for a denial to be changed to an approval after an appeal.

When the applicant requests an appeal, the whole decision will be examined - even portions that were in the person's favor for benefits. The decision will be changed if it is found to have been wrong. Regardless of the reason for the denial, an appeal can be requested. It must be done in writing and the SSA must get it within 60 days of the date the applicant received the letter with the decision.

There are four different levels of appeal. First is reconsideration. This is the complete review done by someone who had no role in the initial decision. If there is new evidence supporting the case, it can be presented. Second is a hearing. If the reconsideration decision still results in a denial for benefits, the applicant can request a hearing. This will be conducted by an administrative law judge (ALJ) who did not have a role in the initial decision or the reconsideration. More evidence supporting the case can be presented at the hearing and information can be clarified. The applicant and witnesses will be questioned by the ALJ and the applicant's legal representative.

If the claim is denied after a hearing, it is possible to request that the Appeals Council hear the case. The Appeals Council does not accept all requests for a hearing. If it thinks the prior decisions were correct, it will not agree to hear the case. If it agrees to conduct a review, it will examine it on its own or send it to an ALJ. If the Appeals Council refuses to hear the case or the applicant disagrees with the decision, the final step to appealing is going to federal district court.

When seeking SSD benefits, it can be frightening and worrisome to be denied. Those who believe their issues are severe enough that they should receive benefits have the right to appeal. For assistance with a claim or appealing a denial, it is important to speak to a legal professional experienced in all aspects of a Social Security Disability case.

Source: ssa.gov, "The Appeals Process," accessed on Aug. 3, 2017

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