Alpharetta SSDI Appeals Process

If your initial claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits was denied, it is important that you know your case is not over. There are several levels of appeals that you can move through to try to get the initial decision reversed.

To learn more about the Alpharetta SSDI appeals process, it may be beneficial to consult an attorney. A knowledgeable SSDI appeals attorney can help you fully understand the process and can provide representation at each step to give your claim the best chance of success.

What Are Reconsideration Appeals?

The first level of the Alpharetta SSDI appeals process is known as reconsideration. For an appeal on the reconsideration level, a person can file the paperwork online or at their local SSA office. Just like at the initial level, the state agency is given the case again. However, this time, it is assigned to a new adjudicator.

The case then goes into medical review again with either a psychologist, a medical doctor, or both, depending on the impairment. The medical professional creates a residual function report based on their past experience and the information in the file and make their recommendation as to whether the claimant is disabled. The decision then gets sent back to the adjudicator who does a final review. Based on Social Security law and their recommendations, a decision is again rendered. If it is favorable, then the claim is paid out and the appeal is over. If it is denied again, then there is a next appeal that can be filed.

SSDI Hearings

The next appeal level is the hearing level. This appeal can be filed in person or online. Instead of going to the state agency for review, the case now requires a hearing before an administrative law judge. Usually, it takes 15 to 18 months for that hearing to be scheduled, or the applicant may schedule a teleconference.

The court usually tries to notify the person at least 75 days before the hearing of the date so that they can arrange representation if they need to do so. While it is not required to have legal representation, it is recommended and some judges will postpone the hearing if the person does not have a lawyer. The judge will make a determination after the hearing, and then the case will go through a writing process in which it is assigned to a decision writer who goes over the judge’s decision and may send it back to the judge if there is anything that but the judge missed or if it does not meet regulations. If the decision is approved, it is sent to the claimant and their representative.

Preparing for the Hearing

Unlike the first two levels in which the Social Security Administration was responsible for developing the file and gathering the medical evidence, at the hearing level that responsibility shifts to the claimant and their lawyer. In preparation of the trial, it is important to contact medical providers to get medical records and file them with the Social Security Administration. If the applicant fails to supply updated medical records, their hearing may be delayed until that information can be sorted out. There are also additional forms that must be filed during this time, such as pre-hearing forms in which they update their work history, their current medication, their current medical treatment, and similar kinds of information.

What is the Role of the Appeals Council?

If the hearing-level appeal results in a denial, the next level of appeal is the appeals council. The person can file for an appeals council online or in person, and will usually hear back in approximately 18 months. The sole focus of the appeals council is to determine whether the judge made an error in the decision.

If the judge made an error anywhere, the appeals council usually remands the case back to the hearing level for another hearing with that judge rather than simply overturning the decision. The judge will review everything that the appeals council highlighted as well as any medical or status changes that have happened since the last hearing. Then they will either reverse the decision and approve the benefits or continue to deny the claim. If the person goes through three denied appeals councils, they may file a federal US district court case as a final appeal.

An Attorney Can Discuss the Alpharetta SSDI Appeals Process

A practiced representative can guide you through the Alpharetta SSDI appeals process. This can give your claim the greatest chance of success. If your SSDI claim was denied, call today to learn more about your options.

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