Denied Social Security Disability Benefits? Appeals Process Can be Tough

If your application for Social Security disability benefits is denied, you have the option to appeal. If your application for Social Security disability benefits is denied, you have the option to appeal. If you’re applying for Social Security disability benefits, chances are your first attempt will be denied. Statistics show that 31 percent of applicants receive a “technical denial” of benefits even before the facts of the case are evaluated. Of the 69 percent of applications that make it to the evaluation stage, more than 62 percent are denied. Technical denials typically are due to one or more of these two most common reasons:

  • Your income exceeds the “substantial gainful activity” limit set by the Social Security Administration;
  • You have not yet earned enough Social Security credits to be eligible for benefits.

Applications that make it to the initial evaluation phase will be judged according to the type and severity of the claimant’s condition and their ability to continue working the same job or adapt to a new one. Of the more than 62 percent of claimants denied benefits upon evaluation, less than half – 48 percent – appeal.

The appeal process begins with a review of your case by a different disability examiner and medical team with the state’s disability determination service. These evaluators will look at the evidence already submitted, plus any additional evidence you’d like to include. Unfortunately, more than 90 percent of applicants’ initial appeals are denied and of them, just 18 percent continue the process.

Next in the appeal process is a hearing by an administrative law judge who will review documentary evidence and witness testimony. You or your legal representative also can examine witnesses and present arguments. If your application again is denied, you may appeal further and request a review in front of an appeals council who can review or dismiss your application. If denied or refused a hearing, you then can take your case to federal court.

The good news is that more than 81 percent of claimants who appeal all the way to the federal level ultimately see their applications approved and their disability benefits, which potentially may include back pay for benefits lost during the appeal process, finally begin. But the process can be lengthy, confusing and ultimately in vain.

To boost your chances of having your claim approved, consult an experienced Social Security disability attorney before filing your initial claim. Jacksonville’s Harrell and Harrell specializes in helping disabled workers secure the benefits they’ve earned. Call 800-251-1111 to schedule a consultation today.