When you have a disability that renders you unable to work, disability benefits offered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) could provide the necessary assistance. Specifically, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can enable you to meet your and your family’s daily needs.
If your claim for SSDI benefits was met with resistance from the SSA, you have several opportunities to appeal the agency’s decision, but the time you have to do so is limited. A Marietta SSDI appeals lawyer at our firm can explain the procedures and help you take the steps necessary to continue your claim for benefits. By working with an experienced Social Security disability law firm, you can give your appeal the best chance of success.
Understanding SSDI Benefits
SSDI is funded by Social Security income taxes paid by employees. Workers pay into this program through payroll taxes so that if they become disabled and lose the ability to work, they can receive benefits to offset their lost wages.
Marietta claims for disability compensation from the SSA are processed through Georgia Disability Adjudication Services. SSDI claims are then processed under strict SSA guidelines. In many cases, the agency denies claims initially, but many Marietta applicants later receive benefits after one or more appeals.
What is the SSDI Appeals Process in Marietta?
The first decision in an SSDI application is referred to as an initial determination. An applicant who receives a denial on the initial determination may file a request for reconsideration, so long as that request is made within 60 days.
The SSA offers two types of reconsiderations. If a claim was denied for medical reasons, the applicant should request a medical reconsideration. If the agency denied the application for reasons other than medical issues, the applicant should request a non-medical reconsideration.
In reconsideration, different agency staff members will review your records to determine whether they believe the finding adheres to agency rules. If the reconsideration also results in a denial, you may further appeal by requesting a hearing before an administrative law judge.
What Happens at a Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge?
The hearing provides you with a chance to present additional evidence and arguments directly to the judge. In many cases, this is the last opportunity to submit new evidence, so it is essential to acquire, preserve, and present as much evidence as possible to support your claim for benefits.
Both the person seeking benefits and the agency that denied the claim may present witnesses to testify. The judge and the opposing party may question those witnesses. Very often the SSA will bring in testimony from medical and vocational experts regarding the extent of the disability and the job functions that could be performed by the claimant.
Appeals Beyond the Hearing
If the hearing does not result in a favorable outcome, the decision may be appealed for review by the Appeals Council. However, the Appeals Council may decline to review the case if it finds the judge’s decision fits with agency guidelines. Finally, if the Appeals Council declines to review a case or issues a denial, the SSDI claim may be appealed to federal court.
Pursuing Justice in Federal Court
The final option for an SSDI appeal takes place entirely outside of the Social Security Administration. Once the Appeals Council has issued an unfavorable decision or refused to take up a case, you have one final option for seeking the benefits you need. Within 60 days of the Appeals Council’s decision, you may file an action in federal court to contest their determination. This legal action must be filed in the federal district court where you live.
As is the case with any lawsuit, you must provide the other side with formal notice of the proceeding. In SSDI cases, that means notifying the Social Security Administration of the pending lawsuit.
There are three possible outcomes during federal review. In cases where the judge determines that more information is needed, the case can be sent back to the SSA to provide additional documentation. In other cases, the federal judge may agree with the Appeals Council’s decision, which effectively brings the claim to an end. Finally, a judge could also overturn the Appeals Council’s decision and award SSDI benefits upon appeal.
Get Help from a Marietta SSDI Appeals Attorney
The process of applying for benefits and seeking reconsideration of decisions appears deceptively simple on the SSA website. In reality, the agency will want to find certain types of evidence showing specific findings of disability to award benefits.
At a hearing, the judge may not adhere to the same strict guidelines, but applicants must abide by rules and present evidence in a persuasive, straightforward, and complete manner to succeed. An experienced Marietta SSDI appeals lawyer can be tremendously helpful throughout the process.
Whether filling out paperwork and meeting deadlines or arguing in front of the judge, an advocate from our team who knows how to demonstrate eligibility for SSDI benefits could work to make your best case. Call now to discuss your situation.