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DisabilityWhat Are the Appeal Stages of an Application for Social Security Disability Benefits? 

August 5, 2020

Every successful Social Security disability claim goes through an extensive process to determine eligibility. This blog will review the steps of your disability claim – and how an attorney can help you secure benefits to support yourself and your family. 

Step 1: Initial Application 

Your first step in the Social Security disability claims process is to complete an initial application, which is offered online, over the phone, or at a local Social Security Administration office. Keep in mind, most applications are denied at this stage, especially if you don’t have a disability attorney by your side. After your application is denied, you have three choices: Accept the denial, file a new initial application, or undergo a Request for Reconsideration. In most cases, a Request for Reconsideration is the next logical step. 

Step 2: Request for Reconsideration

Your Request for Reconsideration must be filed within 60 days from the date you received a denial notice. Social Security officials will then review your Request for Reconsideration, also known as “Recon.” You’ll receive Social Security disability benefits if your Recon is approved. If not, you can file a Request for Hearing. Again, this step is most likely to be successful with the help of a disability attorney who understands the process and can ensure you have the medical records and other materials needed to prove you are truly disabled and unable to perform full-time work. 

Step 3: Hearing 

You’ll have 60 days from the date of your Recon denial to file a Request for Hearing. The hearing is before an administrative law judge at a local Office of Hearings Operations, also known as OHO. An attorney will advocate for you at the hearing, which will ease any nerves or confusion you might be feeling. You and/or your attorney will receive a Notice of Hearing roughly 30 days before the hearing date. Representing yourself at the hearing can be overwhelming. Having an attorney review your medical records and prepare you for the hearing will increase your odds of having your Social Security disability claim approved. 

Step 4: Appeals Council

The judge will typically decide your case within a few months after the hearing. If he or she approves your claim, you will receive a Notice of Decision and a Notice of Award. However, if your claim is denied, you can appeal the decision before an Appeals Council. An experienced Social Security disability attorney can submit a written argument to the Appeals Council explaining the error(s) made by the Administrative Law Judge at your hearing. If you haven’t already, it is important to seek the help of an experienced Social Security disability attorney, as the Appeals Council often upholds the judge’s decision. 

Step 5: Federal Court 

If your claim is still denied, your attorney may file a civil action in United States District Court so that a federal judge can review whether the Social Security Administration was erroneous in denying your Social Security disability claim. Your attorney will tell the judge why you qualify for disability benefits based on your physical and/or mental condition, your medical records, how Social Security disability law applies, and other procedural tactics to help you win your case and secure the disability benefits you need. 

A Social Security Disability Attorney Can Help You Win Your Disability Claim

The Social Security disability attorneys at Watson & Carroll P.C., L.L.O., will advocate for your right to receive disability benefits. Call us today at 402-234-8787. You also can share your story here.

About Watson & Carroll, P.C., L.L.O.

Watson & Carroll, P.C., L.L.O., is not a high-volume law firm that only speaks with clients when it is absolutely necessary. For us, it’s personal. Our team works closely with our clients and their loved ones not only so that we understand their challenges and concerns, but so we can tailor our approach to address different factors, aggressively pursue results, and secure peace of mind. Whether it is a workers’ compensation case, a personal injury claim, a medical malpractice case, or advocating for disability benefits, we work to protect our clients and make sure their rights are upheld. Our firm can help. Call 402-234-8787 or email contact@watsoncarroll.com. You also can fill out our confidential form here.

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