Countless people rely on Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to meet their needs. Without these benefits, many of these individuals would be unable to support themselves and their families. Not only can these benefits provide monetary relief, but the critical insurance that accompanies this benefit as well. Therefore, the denial of SSD or SSI benefits can be especially devastating. Luckily, if you’ve been denied SSD or SSI benefits, you have the right to appeal the decision and request a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Below is an overview of what you need to know about SSD and SSI appeals.
When to appeal
If you’ve been denied disability benefits, you must be mindful of the appeal deadline listed on your denial, as well as the type of denial you receive. Your appeal must be filed within 60 days of the date on your denial letter. If you receive a technical denial, stating that you have not acquired sufficient work credits to qualify for benefits, an appeal is likely not your best option. In order to qualify for SSD benefits, for example, you have to have worked long enough and recent as well. However, if you receive a medical denial, finding that you satisfy the work credit criteria, but that your impairment(s) is not severe enough under Social Security’s rules, you will want to consult with an experienced attorney to file an appeal. When your appeal is filed, your case will be forwarded to the Office of Hearings Operations closest to where you live, and it can take anywhere from 12 to 18 months, on average, for the court to schedule your hearing.
Before your appeal hearing
Prior to your appeal hearing, you must submit updated medical records to the judge in your case for review. All written evidence must be submitted, or at least noticed provided, to the judge no later than five business days before your hearing. In addition to medical records, your disability law attorney may submit a brief to the judge in your case explaining why you are entitled to benefits. Briefs can be a particularly beneficial tool in your case as it outlines the legal arguments in support of your case as well as the pertinent medical evidence and where it can be found in the Exhibit list of your file. This can help the ALJ reconcile any issues that they may have noticed in reviewing your file ahead of time, giving you the advantage you deserve.
At the appeal hearing
At your hearing, the ALJ will take your testimony regarding your past work and your perceived ability to work into consideration. Depending on the ALJ, and the facts of each case, you may be asked a series of questions about your abilities and limitations considering how well you perform activities at home as well as your social functioning. Following your testimony, the ALJ will examine a vocational expert, who will appear in person or by telephone, regarding your past work classifications and whether there are jobs available for a hypothetical person with your similar limitations. Next, your disability law attorney may ask you additional questions to help support your claim and cross-examine the vocational expert. Having a skilled and knowledgeable disability attorney in your corner will not only ensure that your file is prepared and that you are comfortable, but that no important questions are left unanswered.
After the appeal hearing
The ALJ in your case will render a decision in writing to both you and your attorney, generally within two to three months after your hearing. If you are approved, your attorney will instruct you on what steps you should take in order to begin receiving benefits. If you’re denied, however, you can either file a new application or file an additional appeal at the Appeals Council within the prescribed deadline as reflected on your decision. Before hiring an attorney, you may consider asking whether the attorney handles cases from the application through appeals to the Appeals Council and beyond if necessary.
Michigan disability law attorneys
The denial of SSD benefits can be devastating and difficult to go at alone. Fortunately, there is help available for people who are disabled in Michigan to ensure their rights are protected. If you would like to receive disability benefits but don’t know how to apply, or if you have been denied the benefits you are entitled to, the skilled disability law attorneys at Disability Law Group are here to help. At Disability Law Group, our compassionate disability law attorneys will assist you with every step of the disability benefits application process. So, if you live in Macomb County, Oakland County, Wayne County, or elsewhere in Michigan and would like to apply for disability benefits or fight a denial, Disability Law Group is on your side. Remember, disability is all we do. Please contact us as soon as possible for a free consultation.