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What do I do if my disability claim has been denied?

This is a great question that many of our readers may be asking themselves right now. It's important to remember that a denied claim is not the end of the road; you have the right to appeal. Here's how the process works:

First, you must submit a request for reconsideration. During the reconsideration process all evidence, including newly submitted evidence, will be taken into account. Generally speaking, a person does not need to make an appearance in this process, but in cases where benefits for a disability have been denied because of a medical condition, the person may choose to speak with an SSA representative to explain why they feel they should receive benefits after all.

If the reconsideration decision still does not meet your expectations, you may then request a hearing in front of an administrative judge. This is known as an Administrative Law Judge Hearing and petitioners have 60 days after they receive notice of the SSA's reconsideration decision to request a hearing. During the hearing, applicants and witnesses-as well as expert medical witnesses-will be questioned. The testimonies will be carefully reviewed and a decision will then be made.

If your application is still not to your expectations, you may continue the appeals process and submit a petition with the SSA Appeals Council. Similar to the ALJ, the Appeals Council will review all evidence in your case and either reach a decision itself or refer your case back to the ALJ. It's important to point out that although the Appeals Court considers every request for review, this does not necessarily mean that they grant review in every instance.

If you still disagree with the decision up to this point, your final step is to submit your case to Federal District Court for review. Here, at this final step in the process, a district court judge will hear the evidence in the case and order a determination on whether the SSA's decision should be overturned.

Although this process may seem long and cumbersome, it's important to note that you do have the right to appeal your case and if your application. Speaking with an attorney can help you decide if this is the right option for you.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Basics of Social Security Disability Appeals"

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