When you have worked and paid taxes for years to support the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, you expect to receive benefits when you become unable to work due to a disability. If the Social Security Administration denies your claim, it can feel like insult added to injury.
Fortunately, a Dunedin SSDI denial lawyer could help you with the process of appealing an adverse decision. An experienced personal injury attorney who understands SSA procedures could help demonstrate your qualifications in pursuit of full and fair benefits.
What a Denial Means
When the SSA denies an application, it does not necessarily indicate that the applicant is not eligible for benefits. Rather, the denial shows that the applicant failed to adequately demonstrate eligibility in accordance with agency standards and expectations.
In many situations, a Dunedin SSDI denial attorney could help assemble additional evidence and present that evidence persuasively to demonstrate an applicant’s qualifications. Agency processes provide four opportunities to appeal a denial.
The first step when appealing a denial of SSDI benefits is to seek a reconsideration of the decision. Although the staff will be applying the same criteria, a different staff member will make the determination.
An applicant has the opportunity to present additional evidence prior to a reconsideration of the decision. A Dunedin SSDI denial lawyer could help bolster the written record to make a more persuasive showing on reconsideration.
Although an applicant may strengthen the case for benefits on reconsideration, the agency staff are still bound to apply the same strict standards. At the next level of appeal, however, the situation changes.
After reconsideration, the case may be heard by an administrative law judge in a hearing. The judge may apply the disability criteria differently than SSA staff members, the hearing often offers the best opportunity for an applicant to receive a favorable decision. However, the hearing also usually provides the last chance to submit new evidence to support a finding of disability. A Dunedin SSDI denial attorney could help an applicant take full advantage of this opportunity.
Review by Appeals Council
If the applicant is not happy with the outcome of an administrative hearing, they can request a review by the SSA Appeals Council. This council is made up of appeals judges who review cases in panels.
The Appeals Council has the discretion to refuse to review a case if the council believes the judge’s decision fits with agency guidelines. When the council does review a case, it may render a decision or send the case back to the administrative law judge with instructions for review.
Review in Federal Court
If the Appeals Council refuses to review a case or issues an unfavorable ruling, the next step is to appeal the decision in federal court. Depending on the circumstances, a federal judge may not be examining new evidence but making a decision based on the record established earlier.
A Dunedin SSDI denial lawyer could handle all aspects of a federal court appeal. The request must be filed within 60 days of receiving the decision of the Appeals Council.
Consult a Dunedin SSDI Denial Attorney
Whether you have just received a denial of an initial decision or have already begun the appeals process, it is a good idea to consult an experienced Dunedin SSDI denial lawyer. An attorney familiar with appellate procedures could provide full representation at any stage in the process and help you make the strongest possible case for benefits.
While the process of applying for SSDI benefits can be complex, you have the right to representation by an attorney. Assistance from a knowledgeable legal advocate who understands SSA criteria can make a critical difference in your case. To learn how an SSDI denial lawyer could help in your situation, call today.