If you are unable to work due to a disability, you may be eligible for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA). Depending on your work history, income level, and other factors, you may be approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Unfortunately, fewer than 1 in 3 people (36.6%) will be approved for Social Security disability benefits after filing an initial application. If your claim has been denied by the SSA, then you can file an appeal of the decision. A Social Security disability appeal lawyer in Los Angeles, CA can help you with the process.
There are four steps in the SSDI/SSI appeals process. Working with an attorney can help to ensure that your appeal is filed properly, on time, and with the correct authority. If you received a disability benefits denial from the SSA, reach out to RCM Disability today to schedule a free consultation.
How to Appeal a Social Security Disability Denial
If the SSA denied your application for SSDI or SSI benefits, then you may request an appeal. In most cases, an appeal must be filed within 60 days of receiving notice of a denial. There are four levels of appeal:
- Hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ)
- Review by the Social Security Appeals Council
- Federal District Court review
The first step after receiving a denial at the initial level is to file a request for reconsideration. This involves asking the SSA to review its decision, along with any new information and/or medical records that you might have that could change their decision. This request can be filed online, or by filling out and mailing in Form SSA-561 Request for Reconsideration.
Before filing a request for reconsideration, it is often a good idea to consult with a Los Angeles Social Security disability appeal lawyer. They can help you understand the basis for the denial, and what types of evidence may be used to overcome a denial. An attorney can also advise you on how newly submitted evidence – such as medical records to show that your condition is worsening – will impact your disability benefits.
If your request for reconsideration is denied, then the next step is to request a hearing with an ALJ. This hearing may take place online or in-person within 75 miles of your home. You can file this request online through the SSA website, or by filling out Form HA-501 and mailing it to the SSA.
At the hearing, the ALJ will review all of the evidence in your case. If you bring witnesses, then both your lawyer and the ALJ may question them under oath. After hearing all evidence, the ALJ will issue a written decision either upholding the denial or approving benefits.
If the ALJ denies your appeal, then you can file a request for the Appeals Council to review the decision. The Council may confirm the decision of the ALJ. If it decides to review the case, the Council will either issue a decision or return the claim to the ALJ for further action. A request for an Appeals Council review can be made online.
Finally, if you disagree with the decision of the Appeals Council or if the Council decides to not review your case, then you can file a lawsuit in federal district court. As with other steps of the appeals process, a civil action must be filed within 60 days of notice of the Council’s determination in your case. A Social Security disability appeals lawyer in Los Angeles can help you determine if you have a viable case, and file the lawsuit on your behalf.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Social Security Disability Appeal?
Many people choose to file their initial Social Security disability application on their own, without the help of an attorney. If this application is denied, then they face a new question: should I get a lawyer for my SSDI or SSI appeal?
You are not required to have an attorney file a request for reconsideration, an ALJ hearing, or an Appeals Council review. However, having a Social Security disability appeal lawyer on your side may help you achieve a much better outcome, particularly if you are going to a hearing before an ALJ.
Your attorney will gather and analyze your medical records to determine what should be submitted to the SSA. In doing so, they may decide that you need additional testing or other documentation to support your claim. Because Social Security disability lawyers handle hundreds or thousands of cases, they have a good idea of the sorts of evidence that the SSA needs in order to approve a claim.
At the same time, your lawyer will request written opinions from your treating physicians about your ability to work. These letters are often crucial in proving your case, particularly if your medical history is not enough, on its own, to explain why you are unable to work.
Before the hearing, your attorney will prepare you for the questions that you might receive and help you get ready. At the hearing, your lawyer will question witnesses, including the vocational expert hired by the SSA to testify about your ability to work.
Keep in mind that lawyers who represent people in the Social Security appeals process are strictly limited in how much they can charge. In most cases, you won’t be required to pay anything upfront. Instead, you will sign a contingency fee agreement, where your lawyer will receive a percentage of any back benefits that you may be awarded. The SSA must review and approve these fee agreements, and will ultimately pay your Social Security disability appeals lawyer directly.
Disability Claim Denied? Reach Out Today.
Being unable to work due to a physical or mental health disability can be incredibly overwhelming. Handling the paperwork associated with SSDI and SSI appeals can add to your stress levels significantly. If your initial claim for disability benefits has been denied, we are here to help.
RCM Legal is dedicated to helping people with disabilities get the benefits that they are entitled to under the law. Based in Glendale, we represent clients throughout the Los Angeles area. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation with a Los Angeles Social Security Disability attorney, call us at 818-502-1951 or fill out our online contact form.