My Social Security Disability Claim was Denied. What’s My Next Move?

June 3, 2015

There is a pervading myth that all Social Security Disability claims are denied on initial application. This is not the truth. Although approval statistics vary by state, but the denial statistics for the state of Pennsylvania are between 69 and 70 percent for all SSD claims per year.

Those who receive denials can take advantage of the disability appeals process. In this process you will get to appeal your case before an Administrative law judge (ALJ) in a hearing where you will have much better chances of getting your benefits approved with a case that is well prepared and well presented.

Your denial will come in the form of a letter from the Social Security Administration, and this letter contains all of the information you need to file an appeal. This is a general overview of the steps you will follow to get your appeal underway:

  1. File your appeal as soon as possible. You must file your appeal within 60 days of the date on your denial notice or you will have to file a new application and begin the process again.
  2. Request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. In Pennsylvania, you may file a, “Request for Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.” You must request a hearing immediately after you receive notice of the denial of your application. If you have a proven medical disability, and you present the proper documentation your chances of getting approved for benefits increases significantly at a hearing. Given the tremendous backlogs of applications you might expect to wait from six months to a year for a Social Security Disability appeal hearing.
  3. Request for an Appeals Council Review. If your application is denied at the ALJ hearing you can request an Appeals Council Review. Your chances of getting your application approved at this stage is so slim that you are allowed to file a new initial disability claim while the appeals council is reviewing your case. Unless your condition is considerably worse, or the ALJ made a huge error in your case, the appeals council decision will most likely remain unchanged.

The appeals council can do the following:

  • Refuse to review your disability claim
  • Award disability benefits
  • Send your disability claim back to the ALJ for a review of their decision
  1. File an appeal in Federal District Court. Federal court is the last level of appeal for a Social Security Disability claim. The challenge with pursuing a claim to this level is that attorneys are not bound by the Social Security fee arrangement for federal claims. Your attorney may require you to sign a contract for their fee, and any incidentals that you must pay whether the case is won or lost.

If your initial application for Social Security benefits has been denied, you may want to schedule a consultation with an experienced Philadelphia Social Security Disability attorney who will review your case and offer sound legal advice about your options going forward.

If you have questions about filing a social security disability benefits appeal, you are welcome to contact the Philadelphia SSD attorneys at Larry Pitt & Associates to discuss your case. We have multiple offices serving Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties.