It is an unfortunate fact that no matter how badly a person in Killeen, Texas, needs Social Security Disability benefits, many people will have their initial applications for benefits denied. However, they should not lose hope. There is a four-step appeals process in place for those who want to challenge a denial of benefits.
The first level of appeals is reconsideration. In this step, a person who was not involved in the initial decision regarding a person’s SSD benefits application will review the evidence the applicant submitted, along with any additional evidence the applicant has since provided to the Social Security Administration.
If a person’s application for disability benefits is still denied after a reconsideration, the applicant can request a hearing before an administrative law judge, who was not previously involved in the initial decision or the reconsideration of the person’s application for benefits. Prior to the hearing, the SSA may request that the applicant supply them with additional evidence regarding their application that could help clarify things. During the hearing, the ALJ will question the applicant and any witnesses. The applicant or the applicant’s attorney can also question the witnesses.
If a person’s application for disability benefits is denied by an ALJ following a hearing, the applicant can take the case to the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council will determine whether or not to review a request. If it determines that the ALJ’s decision at the applicant’s hearing was correct, it will not review the applicant’s case. If the Appeals Council does decide to review a case, it will either issue a decision regarding whether or not to approve a person for disability benefits, or it may send the case back to an ALJ to be reviewed further.
Finally, if the Appeals Council rejects the person’s application for disability benefits or if the Appeals Council decides not to review the person’s application, then the final step in the appeals process is for the applicant to file a lawsuit with a federal district court.
While having an initial application for disability benefits denied can certainly be discouraging, it is possible to obtain an approval through the appeals process. However, it may be beneficial to have an attorney’s representation throughout the appeals process. An attorney can assess a person’s application for disability benefits, so that the best case possible can be made to the SSA.