In the process of trying to obtain Social Security long-term disability benefits, many applicants in Sandy Springs, unfortunately, find their claims denied and need to appeal the decision. While this may be standard procedure for the Social Security Administration, it can be a daunting and discouraging process for a worker who has paid into the system for years and now seems unable to obtain needed benefits.
Fortunately, a knowledgeable Social Security attorney may be able to help with this. If your SSDI claim is denied, a Sandy Springs SSDI appeals lawyer could help ensure that necessary evidence is presented correctly to help achieve the best chance for a favorable decision on appeal. Consult a qualified SSDI attorney that could fight for you.
What is the SSDI Appeals Process in Sandy Springs?
Many people in Sandy Springs think that appealing an SSDI decision involves filing a lawsuit. Sometimes such lawsuits are necessary, but there are multiple levels of appeals within the agency, and applicants must usually exhaust all their administrative remedies before pursuing an action in a federal District Court.
The first level of appeal following an SSDI decision is what the SSA refers to as a reconsideration. An applicant may ask for a reconsideration online but must specify whether reconsideration is sought on the basis of a medical determination or a determination based on other factors such as length of employment.
In a reconsideration, the application and supporting documentation is reviewed by SSA staff who are different from the staff members who made the initial determination. The staff undertaking the reconsideration reviews all the evidence from the earlier decision, as well as any new evidence presented.
It is wise to carefully examine both the initial application and the denial notification to determine what additional evidence should be submitted with the reconsideration. At certain levels in the appeal process, new evidence is generally not admitted, so it is important to submit the best evidence as early as possible.
Administrative Hearing and Appeals Council Review
If the decision on reconsideration is not favorable, an applicant—along with their Sandy Springs SSDI appeals attorney, if they retain one—may request an administrative hearing. This hearing would be conducted in front of an administrative law judge who would examine the evidence on record as well as new evidence. It should be noted, however, that this is generally the last stage where new evidence can be introduced.
Decisions made by administrative law judges may be reviewed by the SSA Appeals Council. However, the council may refuse to conduct a full review if a preliminary review indicates that the judge’s ruling was supported by evidence and falls within agency guidelines.
When is it Necessary to File a Lawsuit?
If the Appeals Council refuses to undertake a review or if the review does not end in their favor, an applicant may appeal by filing a lawsuit in federal District Court. Procedures would be different at this stage, as the venue is no longer within SSA but rather in the judicial system.
The court would issue a summons to be served, along with a copy of the legal complaint, on the SSA’s Office of the General Council. After the SSA files an answer, the applicant can file an opening brief which presents arguments as to why the administrative decision should be reversed.
The brief is often more important than any oral arguments presented in court, so it is wise to work with an attorney who is experienced in writing persuasive SSDI appeals briefs. An experienced SSDI appeals lawyer in Sandy Springs could be invaluable to an applicant’s final effort to have their claim for benefits approved.
Talking to a Sandy Springs SSDI Appeals Attorney
No matter what stage you are at in the appeals process, guidance from experienced legal counsel could help you succeed at the next level. So, it may be worthwhile for you to talk to a skilled Sandy Springs SSDI appeals lawyer who could review your case, explain your options, and help you reach the best possible outcome. Call today to speak with our intake team and learn more about your options.