Were Your Disability Benefits Denied? Count On Me For Tenacious Appellate Representation.
The unfortunate reality of applying for disability benefits is that most claims are denied one or more times. In 2022, for instance, only 35 percent of initial Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) applications were approved without needing to appeal.
Whether you are applying for the first time or appealing, contact Lisa Smith Siegel, Attorney at Law. I have more than three decades of legal experience, and for the past 12 years, my firm has focused exclusively on assisting Georgia clients with claims for Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). In addition to the initial application process, I can help you appeal a denied claim and fight for the benefits you need and deserve.
Common Reasons That Claims Are Rejected
Because most applications for SSDI and SSI are initially rejected, it is safe to assume that the Social Security Administration (SSA) is looking for reasons to reject claims as much as (or more than) it is looking for reasons to approve them. It is critical for your application to be complete, accurate and presented with supporting evidence.
Many claims are denied because:
- Applicants made a mistake or omission on the application.
- Applicants did not provide enough information or compelling evidence (often in the form of medical documentation).
- Applicants did not prove that they are unable to do any work.
- Applicants had too much income or too many assets (for SSI claims).
If you are applying for benefits, chances are good that you haven’t been working for some time and money is already very tight. Rejected claims further slow down an already slow process, which is something you likely cannot afford. Working with an attorney from the beginning can reduce the chances that your claim is denied for any foreseeable and preventable reasons.
There Are Four Opportunities To Appeal A Denied Claim
The appellate process is similar for both denied SSDI claims and denied SSI claims. Here are the four possible levels of appeal:
Level one: Reconsideration request. You can request that your claim be reexamined by an SSA employee (other than the one who originally reviewed it). You must typically submit a request for reconsideration within 60 days of the initial denial.
Level two: Hearing before an administrative law judge. If your reconsideration was unsuccessful, the next step would be to ask to present your claim to an administrative law judge (ALJ). The judge will typically be one who is located within 75 miles of your home, and they will not have previously had any involvement in the original review or reconsideration.
Level three: Review by an appeals council. The job of an appeals council is to review the decision issued by the ALJ. The council may determine that the judge’s decision was correct and deny further review of your claim. If they do decide to review it, however, they could either instruct an ALJ to revisit the decision or issue their own ruling on your claim.
Action in federal district court: If you are still unsuccessful after trying all three of the above actions, your final option is to bring a lawsuit in federal district court.
I am qualified and ready to counsel you throughout the application and appeals processes, up to and including representing you in a federal court review. By working with an attorney from the very beginning, you may be able to submit a stronger application and appeal, potentially avoiding some of these steps.