Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits can be daunting, especially since the volume of information that must be gathered is often substantial. For a variety of reasons, almost two-thirds of applications for SSDI benefits are rejected, leaving thousands of hard-working individuals without key resources that they need.
If your SSDI application was rejected, it is important that you do not take that as the final word on your eligibility to receive benefits. Instead, get a skilled DuPage County SSDI lawyer to evaluate your case. If applicable, a dedicated personal injury attorney could help you present an effective disability appeal that may overturn the initial decision.
Appealing an SSDI Denial in DuPage County
Applicants often make mistakes after receiving an initial letter of denial from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Only thirty percent of SSDI claims are approved after the initial submission, whereas more than half of all the claimants who choose to appeal the decision proceed to receive SSDI benefits in the future.
Re-applying for disability benefits may not be the best course of action for some applicants. While it is true that the appeal process may take longer than the initial application process, if an individual reapplies for benefits rather than pursuing the appeal process, they may eventually have to endure the appeal process anyways if they hope to receive benefits at some point in the future.
Important Steps of Applying for SSDI Benefits
There are numerous stages of SSDI and appeals that a DuPage County SSDI lawyer could help with, including:
- Reconsideration of the initial SSDI application
- Requesting a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
- Appealing the ALJ’s decision with the Social Security’s Appeals Council
- Bringing an appeal in Federal District Court
The first step in appealing the SSA’s initial decision is to file a request for reconsideration. This must be done within 60 days of receiving the denial letter. Applicants may add to this form any new or different information that they believe may have a bearing on their case.
Administrative Law Judge Hearing
Typically, however, this step will not result in a change in outcome, and applicants must proceed to a disability hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. During such a hearing, an assigned judge listens to the applicant’s explanation of why they should receive Social Security Disability benefits.
Often, ALJ hearings include a medical expert, who may ask questions and advise the ALJ regarding medical matters. Moreover, a vocational expert may be present as well. The vocational expert’s duty is to advise the judge regarding whether the applicant may still be qualified to perform payable work after considering the type of disability the applicant has.
Applicants may bring a witness if they prefer, although it is generally wise for them to consult with their SSDI lawyer in DuPage County regarding which witnesses to bring beforehand, or whether they should bring any at all. Having witnesses testify on behalf of the applicant may play a significant role in the outcome of the appeal, depending on the circumstances.
Further Steps for Appeal
If the denial is upheld at the ALJ hearing, the decision may be sent to an Appeals Council, which consists of a number of judges who were not previously involved in the applicant’s case. They may not consider any new evidence but will make sure that the judge from the previous hearing followed the correct procedures and laws in rendering the decision.
After reviewing the case, they can concur with the hearing’s findings and overturn them, thus awarding the applicant benefits, or they can send the case back to the previous judge for reconsideration. If they side fully with the ALJ, though, an applicant’s last option is to appeal their case to a Federal District Court.
Contacting a DuPage County SSDI Attorney
Many people are denied SSDI benefits when they initially apply. However, the notice of denial is only the beginning of an extensive process that may yet protect individuals with disabilities.
If you are seeking Social Security benefits, it is highly advisable that you consult with an experienced DuPage County SSDI lawyer for help navigating the Social Security appeals process, as well as for aggressive representation and sound legal guidance during subsequent hearings. To get started on your case, call today to schedule a consultation.