What if my Social Security disability application is denied?

Social Security Disability Levels of Appeal

Then you have come to the right place. The Law Office of Brendan Conley can assist you in applying for disability benefits (SSDI or SSI) or in appealing an application that was denied. It is important to understand the stages of a disability application.

The Initial Application
The first step in obtaining Social Security disability benefits is the initial application, which may be done in person at a Social Security Administration office or online. Many people choose to file an application at this stage without the assistance of an attorney. Information in the application is verified by Social Security Administration field offices and it is then sent to a Division of Disability Determinations office, part of the Florida Department of Health, for evaluation. It takes approximately 90 days or more for an initial determination to be made. In Florida, only 26.8 percent of claims are approved at the initial application stage, below the national average of 31 percent. If the application is denied, then the applicant has 60 days in which to file a request for reconsideration.

At the reconsideration stage, a new officer of the Division of Disability Determinations, who did not take part in the review of your initial application, considers your application. In Florida, 8.9 percent of applications that were initially denied are approved at the reconsideration stage. The reconsideration process takes approximately another 90 days or more. Upon receiving a denial at this stage, the applicant again has a 60 day deadline to file a request for a hearing.

Administrative Law Judge Hearing
If an application is denied again at the reconsideration stage, then you may request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This is where many cases are won. At this stage, obtaining representation from a Social Security disability lawyer is highly recommended, and statistics show that applicants who are represented by an attorney at this stage have greater success. An attorney can help develop medical evidence and prepare you for the hearing. The approval rate in Florida at the hearing stage is 48.3 percent. However, the wait time for a hearing is much longer than the wait at the previous stages and in Florida the wait is currently about 18 months.

Appeals Council
If you receive an unfavorable decision from the Administrative Law Judge at your hearing, and you believe the judge made an error, then you may appeal to the Social Security Appeals Council. If the Council believes your case was decided incorrectly, the decision can be reversed or sent back to the judge for further proceedings.

Federal Court
A final possible stage in appealing a decision is filing a lawsuit in federal district court.

4 Comments on What if my Social Security disability application is denied?

  1. jeanne lawrence // July 5, 2016 at 6:24 pm //

    A 53 year old man applies for SSD on Jan 1, 2011 in Ky. The initial claim is denied. His attorney’s advice is to move to Fla. w/his parents w/o advising the man to reapply in KY w/in 60 days. He moves from KY. to Fla. in 2012, trying to live on odd jobs for several months, therefore, having gone beyond the next 60 day filing period allowed to reapply in Fla. He again tries to work small jobs to make ends meet and is then told that, even though his medical disability to work has deteriorated substantially, the maximum allowable time for him to have reapplied for SSD finally is 5 years since he has not held a ligitaimiae job in over 5 years. ??? Is there any provision in the law to account for incorrect legal advice OR trying to make it independently having gone over the application or reapplication time limits to file again in under the 5 year limit from scratch

    • From Social Security’s point of view, if you don’t appeal within the 60 day time period, then the denial is final. However, this does not stop you from starting over with a new application at any time. If the person has not worked enough in recent years to be eligible for SSDI, then they may still be eligible for SSI. Benefits would only be payable from the new application date forward.

      It is possible under certain circumstances to reopen a prior determination, if the decision was incorrect. Going that far back, there would probably have to be an “error on the face of the evidence” or similar mistake. If the person reapplies, you can seek representation from an attorney from the beginning and ask about the possibility of reopening the prior decision.

  2. Hi, I live in FL, my daughter lives in Calif. My granddaughter is 24, has juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, inflammation all in eyes. It has taken her right eye, completely blind in that eye and her vision is limited with cataracts in the other eye. She applied for SS/Disability in the beginning of 2015, it was denied, she appealed, it was denied again. So they are waiting for the hearing with the Judge which was supposed to be this summer. 2016. Each time she calls, they tell her there is no date yet. My question is, She can not drive, she does work part time, but, my daughter has to driver her back and forth to 2 different jobs all day, my daughter is unable to work to help her daughter. I am not sure what she can do. Is it possible for someone to get disability based upon their vision being so limited?? I mean my daughter needs some kind of help, transportation, medical etc….it is very difficult for them. Is there any guidance you can provide me with for her? Any help at all would be appreciated. Thank you….

    • I highly recommend that your granddaughter consult with a Social Security disability attorney in her area. Most such attorneys work on contingency: they are not paid unless they win the case. The typical fee is 25 percent of the claimant’s back pay, up to a maximum of $6,000.

      It is certainly possible for a person to be considered disabled on the facts you have stated. It would all depend on how good her vision is in her better eye, what limitations the condition causes, and how much she is working. An attorney in her area would be able to analyze her case, tell her what additional evidence might be needed, and help her prepare for the hearing.

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