The Appeals Process for Disability Benefits
Disabled individuals in the United States who cannot support themselves may be entitled to receive financial support in the form of disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, the process of filing a claim for these benefits can be complicated, and it’s not uncommon for those who file for disability benefits to be rejected on the initial attempt. Fortunately, there is an appeals process in place for those who have been wrongfully rejected.
The majority of initial applications are rejected, meaning that most of those who apply will have to navigate the appeals process to get the benefits they need. The appeals process for disability benefits can be fairly complicated, and may require legal assistance for the applicant, depending on what level their appeal reaches. An appeal can be successful at any stage of the process, meaning that the applicant may be able to receive their benefits at any stage.
How the Process Works
There are multiple stages to the appeals process, which can be understood as:
- Initial application – the first step is the presentation of the application to a local SSA office. For instance, if you live in Illinois, you would send your application to an SSA office in your jurisdiction.
- Application rejection – when an application is rejected, it sets the stage for the appeals process to begin.
- Request for appeal – a signed request for an appeal of the decision must be returned to the same local office.
- Reconsideration – another individual in the same office will review the application and make a determination about benefits.
- Hearing – if the reconsideration results in another rejection, a hearing before an administrative law judge may be requested.
- Appeals Council Review – if the administrative law judge turns down the appeal, the Appeals Council will review your case.
- District Court Case – at the final level of appeal, you may bring a case against the SSA in a district court. You must have the representation of an attorney at this level of appeal.