Disability Lawyer: 4 Stages In The Appeals Process & How They Can Help

If you need social security disability benefits, and your claim has been denied, it's always best to consult with a qualified disability law office like the Law Offices Of Russell J. Goldsmith to learn more about your options. An experienced attorney can help guide you through the appeals process to ensure your application is submitted with the best chance for success. Below is an overview of the four different levels of the appeals process and how a social security disability lawyer can provide invaluable assistance along the way.

The Reconsideration

The first step in the appeals process is what is known as a reconsideration request. Upon denial, applicants have the opportunity to formally request the reconsideration of their claim for disability benefits. Petitions for reconsideration must be filed within 60 calendar days of the applicant's denial, or claimants will need to file an entirely new application. There are a few states that have eliminated this aspect of the appeal process, although most still require it.

ALS Hearing

If for some reason your petition for reconsideration was denied, you can follow through on the appeals process and request a hearing with an administrative law judge. This can be a complex process, replete with strict filing deadlines and comprehensive documentation requirements, without which you stand little chance of success. A disability attorney can ensure that you are prepared for this hearing and equip you with the necessary tools to demonstrate your need for disability benefits.

Appeals Council Review

Following a denial of benefits in an ALS hearing, you may be able to continue your appeal in requesting a hearing with the appeals council review. However, the appeals council is not obligated to review the cases of all those who apply for review.

The main difference here is that the appeals council does not evaluate the merits of your claim, although it can award you benefits nonetheless. Instead, its function is to determine whether or not the administrative law judge who presided over your case made an error in his or her determination of your eligibility. If it is determined that your denial was based in error, the appeals council can send your case back to an administrative law judge, or overturn your denial altogether and award you benefits.

Federal Court Review

If your case was denied for review or altogether rejected by the appeals council, the only further recourse available to you is review by a federal district court. This is without question the most complex component of appeals. A disability lawyer will know exactly what is required if you ultimately decide to pursue the appeals process further, including where to send copies of complaints and summons, as well as important deadlines that affect the outcome.

In the end, there simply is no replacement for experienced legal counsel in the appeals process for social security disability claims.