In New York, just under 45 percent of people who applied for Social Security disability benefits had their claims approved after their initial application. While another 51.2 percent were determined to be eligible for benefits after appealing an initial denial, the data indicate that more than half of those who apply for benefits are not able to receive them.
Social Security disability (SSD) benefits are supposed to provide a safety net for those who are too disabled to work. Unfortunately, many people with legitimate claims are denied.
A denial can be devastating if you are counting on disability benefits to support yourself and your family while you are unable to work. Fortunately, an initial denial is not the end of the road. You may be able to secure the benefits you deserve on appeal. An experienced New York or New Jersey disability benefits lawyer like those at the Ginarte law firm can assist you during the appeals process.
Appealing an SSD Claim
When you apply for SSD benefits, your local Social Security office will review the initial part of your application to ensure you meet basic minimum qualifying criteria, such as having a sufficient work history (for SSDI) or having few resources and limited income (for SSI). Once you pass this initial hurdle, your claim is sent to Disability Determination Services (DDS).
Your case will be assigned to a disability determination specialist at the DDS office who will review the technical information in your application. The job of the DDS is to ensure that you have a long-term disability that genuinely makes it impossible for you to work and support yourself. The goal of the DDS is to catch and deny fraudulent claims. The DDS will request and review your medical records and may request additional information it needs to assess your eligibility.
If DDS denies your claim for benefits, you will be sent information indicating that your claim has been denied. It can take anywhere from four to six months on average (and sometimes longer) to find out whether your initial claim is approved. It can be especially upsetting to wait months and months for benefits only to be denied.
The letter from the SSA denying your claim will explain to you how to go about appealing and the time limit you have for the appeal, but you should not try to go it alone. If you do not already have an SSD lawyer, now is the time to get one. An SSD attorney can help you through every step of the appeals process so you can have the best chance of convincing the SSA that you deserve benefits.
Stages of an SSD Appeal
The first stage of an appeal is typically a request for reconsideration, asking the SSA to take another look at your application. Your information will be sent to a new disability determination specialist who did not play any role in your initial denial. The new specialist will make a decision on your claim as if it had never been considered before.
You should be sure to identify and correct any possible problems with your initial application. For example, if the initial application was not supported by enough medical data or if you were lacking testimony from a specialist on your condition, then you will want to add this information when you make your request for reconsideration. An attorney can help you explore ways to strengthen your application and will work with you to do everything possible to get your claim approved at this stage.
If you again receive a denial, then the next step in the process involves a disability benefits hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). It can take up to a year or longer to schedule this hearing, and you may need to travel in order attend the hearing. In some cases, the hearing can be conducted by video. Whether you attend by video or in person, you will want to have an attorney represent you at this hearing.
The hearing will give you an opportunity to present information supporting your claim. You need to follow the procedural rules and make a very strong case to receive benefits since this is your chance to meet face-to-face with a representative of the SSA and present your case. An ALJ will hear your side of the story and will make a determination based on all of the evidence produced to the ALJ.
If you are not able to successfully receive benefits at the hearing, you can ask a disability review board to reconsider the decision. The board may decline, at which point you would skip to the final stage of appeals. The board could review the past actions on your claim and determine that the correct decisions were made. Finally, the board could decide that your denial of benefits should be reconsidered and/or that a different decision on your eligibility should be reached.
At this point, if you are still not found to be eligible for benefits, you have your first opportunity to appeal your claim outside of the administrative system. You can appeal your case to federal court and have your case history reviewed for errors.
Get Help from Our NY & NJ Social Security Disability Appeals Lawyers Now
A denial can be devastating when you are in need of income and are counting on disability benefits. Unfortunately, more than half of all applicants receive a denial. If this happens to you, appealing the SSA’s decision could give you the best chance at getting the benefits you need.
The Social Security disability lawyers at the Ginarte law firm have the experience and the dedication to help you receive all the benefits you are entitled to. Contact us today by calling 1-888-GINARTE (1-888-446-2783) or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Or visit us at one of our seven offices in the NY / NJ metro area: Newark, New York City, Queens, Union City, Elizabeth, Clifton and Perth Amboy.