Social Security and Veteran’s Disability Appeals

Were you denied in your application for Social Security Disability (SSD), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or Veteran’s Disability? We can help you appeal that decision. It can be a complicated process, so having our lawyers represent you helps make sure you’re following the right process.

Social Security Appeals

For Social Security appeals, the process for obtaining SSD or SSI benefits can often involve multiple appeals. If denied at the initial determination, you can request an appeal. The request must be in writing and received within 60 days from the date you received the decision letter. You can mail in the appeal or fill it out online at www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/appeal.

Four Levels of Appeals

There are four levels of appeals in which Social Security makes a decision as to whether a person is disabled at each stage.

Reconsideration

At the reconsideration level, your claim is completely reviewed by another party who was not included in the initial determination. This includes re-examining all evidence originally submitted and any new evidence. You do not need to be present. However, if the appeal is for a denial based on your health improving to the point you no longer need disability benefits, you may meet with a Social Security representative in person to explain why you believe you still need the benefits.

Hearing

If your reconsideration appeal is denied, you can ask for a hearing before an administrative law judge who was not involved in the initial determination or reconsideration. Before the hearing, you may need to offer more evidence or clarification on current information. You may also review your current file and add new information.

At the hearing, the administrative law judge will question you, your witnesses, and any other witnesses (such as medical or vocational experts). These other witnesses may offer information, and you or your counsel can question them.

After the hearing, the administrative law judge will make a decision which you will receive by mail (it often takes a few months between the hearing date and when you receive a decision).

Appeals Council

If you disagree with the administrative law judge’s decision, your next step is to ask for a review by the Social Security Appeals Council. The Appeals Council looks at all requests for review, but may deny the request if it believes the hearing decision was correct. If it reviews your case, it may decide the case itself or return it to an administrative law judge. Usually, at the Appeals Council stage (and beyond), the issue is not just a matter of whether or not we feel you are disabled, the issue is really whether Social Security broke it’s rules in the way in which they found you not disabled.

If your request is denied, you will receive a letter stating so. If the Appeals Council reviews and overturns your case, the result is not normally an outright win. Instead, the case will usually be returned to an administrative law judge with directions to rectify any errors in the prior hearing/hearing decision.

Federal Court

If you disagree with the Appeals Council’s decision, the last appeal is to file a lawsuit in a federal district court.

Smith Godios Sorensen Inc.represents clients at all levels of the appeal process, as well as the initial application stage. The process can be complicated, but our experience can help to make sure your appeals or applications are filled out correctly and you follow the processes set forth by Social Security. Contact us and let us help make the appeals process easier for you.