What Happens if I’m Denied on my Initial Social Security Disability Application?
Should you receive an initial denial on your Social Security disability claim, understand that you are not alone. Two-thirds (2/3) of all initial claims are denied for some reason or another and this does not necessarily mean that your claim is not valid. The first thing you should consider is whether you have received the advice and assistance of a Social Security lawyer who is skilled in this area of the law and understand there are only sixty-five (65) days from the date of the denial within which to appeal
Checking the background of the Social Security lawyer you will be hiring to represent you in your Social Security disability claim is important. Many long term and short term disability insurance companies will attempt to refer you to one of their in-house individuals that handle such claims (and may or may not explain to you that you have a right to hire your own representative, who should in fact be a skilled lawyer). Many times, those recommended by the insurance company are not lawyers, and have no legal background whatsoever. They may have very little understanding of the Social Security rules and regulations. Likewise, many times they are working for one of a number of large organizations located in various parts of the country (but nowhere near New England) and, ultimately, should you need to go to hearing, you may find that the organizations sends a young individual with no legal training to sit in on your hearing (and with no particular sense of the judge you’ll be appearing in front of on your hearing date).
Once you’ve assured yourself that you have obtained the advice of an experienced and local Social Security disability lawyer, the next step is to remember that you have only 65 days within which to get your request for reconsideration filed (if you reside in Maine or Massachusetts) and what would be the same time period should you need to file a request for hearing (assuming you reside in New Hampshire). The regulations provided that in Maine and Massachusetts, there is a “reconsideration” process where the state agency responsible for making disability determinations will take another look at your case. In New Hampshire, a pilot project was started many years ago whereby you skip the reconsideration process and go straight to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
The request to appeal process remains the same, whether one is at the reconsideration process or the hearing process. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has an on line appeal process whereby you click a link to their on line portal that has been set up for the appeals process. You will be directed to enter in information through various information screens, and will periodically want to save the answers you’ve provided on line. One of the most important items to remember is to SAVE THE REENTRY NUMBER YOU’RE PROVIDED. Should you wish to save and exit the system (so as to come back to it later), you will find that you will be unable to do so without that reentry number: note that the SSA representatives will not have access to your reentry number, so place the reentry number somewhere safe. One is allowed to go in and out of the system as many times as one requires in order to complete the appeal. However, do understand that 1) there is only 65 days from the date of the denial letter to submit your appeal and 2) you may find yourself timed out and lose your information if you go more than 30 days from the time you begin entering in your information.
The questions are designed to find out what has taken place since you applied. Therefore, SSA will ask whether you have any new illnesses or medical conditions, have had any changes for better or worse with respect to the conditions you listed on your application, what doctors, hospitals and other medical providers you’ve seen since you last filled out a disability report (since you applied) and whether there have been changes to your daily activities since you first applied.
In order to make certain your appeal is complete and accurately portrayed, it is best to have a knowledgeable Social Security lawyer assist you with completing this very important form.