The Disability Benefits Appeals Process

Every year, millions of Americans will apply for disability benefits.  While the SSA (Social Security Administration) will approve some of those claims, the vast majority will unfortunately be denied.  The average denial rate throughout the United States is around 70%, while the denial and approval rates by state are reported as:

  • Pennsylvania: average 32% approved vs. 68% denied
  • New Jersey: average 43.2% approved vs. 56.8% denied

As these discouraging numbers make all too clear, applicants realistically face a much higher chance of being denied than approved even in the best case scenario.

Fortunately for rejected disability claimants, a denial does not have to be the end of the matter.  If your claim was denied, you can contest the SSA’s decision by requesting a Reconsideration and going through the appeals process.  So how does this process work, and what should you do to increase your chances of being approved for monthly benefits?

Approved

Young, Marr & Associates: Disability Benefits Attorneys

If you are considering requesting a Reconsideration from the SSA, an experienced disability benefits lawyer can help guide you through this complex and often time-consuming legal process.  At the law offices of Young, Marr & Associates, our attorneys are equipped with more than 25 years of experience handling thousands of cases throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

No matter how complicated or hopeless you may feel about your claim, your case will be supported by decades of practical experience handling these matters.  You will be treated with dignity, compassion, and respect, and our committed attorneys will work closely with you throughout each and every step of the appeals process.  With Young, Marr & Associates, you’re in capable hands.

How Does the Appeals Process Work?

Step 1: Request for Reconsideration

If your initial claim for disability benefits was denied, the next step is to request a formal Reconsideration.  The appropriate forms are available for download on the SSA website.

If you live in Pennsylvania, you must request a hearing within 60 days of your denial.

If you live in New Jersey, you must request Reconsideration first.  If your request for Reconsideration is also denied, you must then request a hearing.  This is the most likely course of events, because only about 10% to 14% of applications are approved at the Reconsideration stage.

Step 2: The Hearing

Initially rejected applications are most likely to be approved during the hearing stage, meaning this stage of the appeals process is especially critical to success.

An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will preside over your hearing.  You will receive written notification of his or her ruling, usually about two to three months after the hearing.

If your claim was approved at the hearing stage, you can generally expect benefits to begin within two to three months.  But if your claim was denied at the hearing stage, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Judge sitting at table during court hearings on room background

Step 3: Appeals Council Review

If the ALJ denies your application, it’s time for the Appeals Council Review.  You only have 60 days following your hearing to request a review from the Appeals Council.  If you miss the 60-day deadline, you will have to start the entire process over from the beginning.

The Appeals Council will evaluate the decision rendered at your hearing.

If the Council disagrees with the ALJ’s verdict based on the evidence presented at the hearing, you will be approved for benefits.  However, if the Council supports the outcome of your hearing, there’s still one step left: federal court.

Step 4: Federal Court

Once again, time is of the essence.  You have only 60 days to file a complaint in Federal District Court following the Appeals Council Review.  If you miss the cut-off, you will have to start from scratch.

At this stage, a Federal Judge will review your case.  Three outcomes are possible:

  1. The judge denies your claim.
  2. The judge approves your claim, and you may now receive benefits.
  3. The judge sends your case back for a second hearing.

If the Judge decides your case needs another hearing, the appeals process continues through the cycle again.

Because your claim will be evaluated by judges based on evidence and the overall strength of your case, it is extremely important that you are supported by an aggressive attorney with experience navigating the appeals process.

To schedule a completely free and confidential legal consultation with a disability benefits lawyer, call the law offices of Young, Marr & Associates at (609) 557-3081 in New Jersey or (215) 515-2954 in Pennsylvania, or contact us online.  Missing a single deadline can force you to start the appeals process over from the beginning, so don’t delay: call today.  We don’t charge a fee unless we win benefits for you.

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