According to statistics from 2011, fewer than 40 percent of initial applications for SSDI were approved. Since almost two-thirds of applications for disability are denied, it is critical to understand the appeals process. In fact, the rate of approvals climbs significantly when cases are appealed and heard by administrative law judges.
Request for Reconsideration
The first step following a denial of an initial SSDI application is the request for reconsideration. Once the SSA receives the request, a different person will evaluate the application a second time.
Request for Review
If the request for reconsideration is also denied, you can file a request for review. At this point in the process, the case file will be forwarded to the office of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
The ALJ works for the SSA and conducts hearings to review testimony, evidence and other information. The purpose of this hearing is so that the ALJ can decide whether the SSA’s original decision should be overturned or upheld.
The claimant is allowed to bring additional evidence in support of his or her case. In addition, the claimant and witnesses, such as family members, friends and medical experts may testify before the ALJ at the hearing. Individuals who wish to file a request for review often seek the help of an attorney.
Appeal before the Appeals Council
The third stage of the appeals process is the filing of an appeal with the SSA’s Appeals Council. Once the Appeals Council receives the request, it will either conduct the review or send it to an ALJ for review.
At every stage in the process, the claimant has the opportunity to provide more evidence to support his or her claim. A disability lawyer may be able to help you gather the additional evidence for your case. To speak with a lawyer about your disability case, please call the office of Pashler & Devereaux at 716-874-1739.