Appealing a denial of Social Security Disability Insurance benefits

Have you applied for Social Security Disability benefits and been denied? Did you know that the majority of applications are initially rejected even though many of those claims support disability?

If your initial claim has been denied, you still may have a good shot at attaining disability benefits.

In Michigan, your first appeal after your initial denial is to the Office of Disability Adjudication & Review. To appeal the initial denial, you must complete a hearing appeal request (form SSA 501) and an appeal disability report form (form SSA 3441). After you submit the appropriate documents, you will receive a notice of acknowledgement. It may take anywhere from 2 to 12 months (or more) before you receive a letter confirming the date and location of your hearing.

Before the hearing, you may need to supplement your claim with more written evidence, including reports from any additional medical assessments that would help develop the record. As such, it is very important that you continue to get regular treatment from a medical doctor for your disabilities.

During the hearing, you will be asked questions about your medical conditions, about your past jobs, work skills and education, and about your daily activities. If needed, medical or vocational experts may also testify or provide information at the hearing. Of course, your attorney can question any witnesses that provide information to the judge.

After evidence is presented, the judge will make a ruling based on all of the information in your case. If the judge denies your appeal, you can file a subsequent petition to the Social Security's Appeals Council, which is responsible for reviewing these decisions. After a rejection on this final administrative level before the Social Security Administration, the next step is to file a lawsuit in a federal District Court. The District Court decision is also appealable to the appropriate U.S. Court of Appeals and then the U.S. Supreme Court, although few cases reach this level.

As you can see, the entire application process can be exhaustive. So many steps are involved, and if you are not meticulous with each appeal, your case could be denied. Nevertheless, you should fight for your benefits. According to the Social Security Disability Resource Center, hearings are successful more than 60 percent of the time when representation is present. While every case is different, why would you not seek experienced representation? Therefore, if you are interested in receiving benefits, you may want to speak to a knowledgeable Social Security Disability attorney.