If you sought financial assistance through the federal government’s Supplemental Security Income program and your initial application was not approved, you are not alone. The Social Security Administration (SSA) disputes approximately two-thirds of initial claims for disability benefits.
After a disputed application, many people applying for benefits simply give up. However, appealing the decision with the help of a dedicated attorney can give you a better chance of being approved. Reach out to a Marietta SSI appeals lawyer to discuss your options.
When to File an SSI Appeal
The SSA might deny a claim for SSI benefits for a number of reasons. Often, these denials occur because of a lack of documentation. If an applicant fails to attach all of the necessary documentation, the Social Security Administration might not have enough information to move forward on their SSI claim.
Another common issue that can lead to a denied SSI claim is a failure to comply with the SSA’s income requirements. Since SSI in a needs-based program, there are strict income limits that apply, and anyone who makes too much is not entitled to receive monthly compensation.
Furthermore, a lack of diagnosis also forms the basis of many SSI denials. You must be diagnosed with blindness or a disability which is recognized by the Social Security Administration in order for SSI benefits to be awarded. Other common grounds for denial include a failure to follow a doctor’s treatment plan or failure to comply with a deadline.
Fortunately, these discrepancies can be addressed in one or more appeals with the help of a Social Security disability advocate.
The SSI Appeals Process
If a disabled applicant’s initial claim for benefits is denied, there are four stages of appeals they may pursue. They may first request that the SSA reconsider their claim, which involves a different group of employees reviewing the case.
Next, if benefits are still not approved after the reconsideration, the applicant can ask that an administrative law judge (ALJ) hears their case in a formal court proceeding. If the ALJ issues an unfavorable decision, the applicant could then request that the Social Security Appeals Council review the decision. If the claim for benefits is again denied, the applicant may file a Federal District Court lawsuit.
Because of the complexity of pursuing an action in federal court, the assistance of an experienced Marietta attorney can be crucial in navigating the legal system and properly appealing the SSI claim.
How an SSI Appeals Lawyer Can Help
There are several ways that a seasoned legal advocate can help increase an applicant’s chances of securing SSI benefits during the appeal process in Marietta.
Determine Why the Claim was Denied
Because the SSA guidelines for disability claims are so strict, failing to submit even one essential document could result in a denial of the appeal. A disability attorney can review the initial application and determine what was missing in the original submission. Moving forward, legal counsel can include the necessary additional information in the file before proceeding to the next stage of the appeals process.
Request a Hearing on the Record
A disability law firm with experience in SSI appeals could also assess the strength of the applicant’s case. If an experienced disability claim advocate determines that the SSI application contains the necessary information for a favorable decision, they may ask that the matter be reviewed by a staff attorney at the disability hearing office in Marietta without a hearing. If the hearing office agrees that the applicant is disabled, benefits can begin right away, saving the applicant months of waiting for a hearing and a final decision.
File an Appeal
It is important to request the correct type of appeal when seeking SSI benefits. However, the process is complex and includes specific filing deadlines that must be met for an appeal to even be considered. A Social Security disability representative familiar with the process and deadlines could help ensure that the applicant’s right to have their case reviewed is protected at every stage of the SSI appeals process in Marietta.
Representation in Court
If a case proceeds to a hearing before an administrative law judge, or to a trial in Federal District Court, a persuasive disability attorney can present evidence on the applicant’s behalf. This could include the testimony of the applicant’s doctors and other medical experts, as well as cross-examination of any witnesses who dispute the SSI appeal. The hearing or trial allows the judge to review the available information and determine whether the applicant is disabled and entitled to SSI benefits.
Meeting Important Deadlines
As is the case with most legal actions, there are a number of important deadlines that apply to appealing an SSI decision. The first deadline is crucial, and a failure to comply could prevent you from pursuing your appeal at all. You must file an SSI appeal within 60 days of receiving the initial decision.
There are some limited circumstances where an appeal could move forward even if it was filed after the 60-day window closes. The Social Security Administration may accept an appeal after the 60 days expire if you can show good cause for filing late (i.e., a death in the family, a serious illness, or mistakenly filing it with the wrong government entity). A disability attorney in the Marietta area can help ensure these deadlines are met in an SSI appeal.
Contact an Experienced Marietta SSI Appeals Attorney
The process of appealing a disputed SSI claim is challenging and can take many months to resolve. The success of your appeal largely depends on whether you follow all of the strict SSA guidelines. Luckily, a Marietta SSI appeals lawyer can work with you to gather all the relevant medical records, file the appropriate documentation with the hearing office or court, and properly litigate your appeal. Contact our intake team today to discuss your claim.