You’ve been through the application process, filled out all of their forms, and waited for a decision – which denied your disability claim. Now what?
Find an Experienced Social Security Attorney
I might be a little biased, since I am an experienced Social Security Attorney, but there are some very good reasons why someone going through this process should hire a social security lawyer. Social Security Disability claims are governed by a complicated body of law, which most people aren’t familiar with. An experienced lawyer will understand how to build your case, obtain the necessary evidence, and prepare for your hearing.
Representatives fees are regulated by Social Security. In most cases, representatives charge 25% of your back benefits if they win the case for you, and Social Security will withhold the amount of the approved fee from your back benefits check. There is no fee unless the representative wins the case.
Although there are a few national firms, most of my clients prefer to deal with local disability attorney: someone they can meet in person.
Submit the Necessary Medical Evidence
Your representative should do this for you – make sure that he or she knows who you have treated with. The representative will obtain a copy of the evidence which Social Security already has, and then decide what else is needed.
Many physicians will submit copies of your medical records, but it is often helpful to have a medical report filled out by your treating physician.
Understand That There Will Be Some Delay
The Social Security system is over burdened with appeals, and there is a significant delay in most hearing offices. How Long Will It Take to Schedule my Social Security Hearing. It is sometimes possible to shorten the wait, where a person is in a critical situation – for example, facing an immediate eviction.
Understand the Different Levels of Appeal
In Pennsylvania, if you are denied disability benefits, the next step is to request a hearing (in most other parts of the country, there is an intermediate step called reconsideration). Your case will then be heard by an Administrative Law Judge, who will consider all of the evidence which has been submitted, as well as the testimony presented, and then make a decision.
If you are denied after a hearing, you can request review of the decision by the Appeals Council: a part of the Social Security Administration which reviews Judge’s decisions from all over the country. The Appeals Council does not hold any hearings; they simply look at the record which was created at the ALJ hearing.
The Appeals Council may make a new decision, send the case back to the ALJ for a further hearing, or deny review. If they have denied review, the claimant has the right to file an action in federal court, seeking judicial review of the decision.