This week, Disability Tips looks at the stages and appeals in Social Security disability cases: application, reconsideration, hearing, appeals council and beyond! We also discuss:
Give it a listen: Continue reading Stages in a Social Security disability case EXPLAINED!
A number of attorneys suggest that if you are denied at your Social Security disability hearing, you should do two things:
- Appeal the Administrative Law Judge’s (ALJ’s) decision to the Social Security Appeals Council, and
- File a new claim for Social Security disability benefits.
The idea was that the new claim would be evaluated by Social Security until it got to the hearing level, the the old claim was pending on appeal. There were pros and cons to this approach.
- Since cases often take in excess of 18 months at the Appeals Council, some advised to start the ball rolling on a new claim (which might get approved sooner).
- The problem was that a denial on the new claim might reinforced the correctness of the prior hearing denial which is being appealed.
- Also, if the new claim got to the hearing level, it was put on hold until the Appeals Council decided on the appeal of the prior hearing decision.
- If the Appeals Council denied the appeal, it might have a chilling effect on the new claim’s chances waiting to be heard at the hearing office.
Well, all this is a thing of the past.
With SSR 11-01p, Social Security now effectively makes you pick whether to appeal OR start a new claim. Continue reading SSR 11-1p: can’t appeal and reapply for Social Security disability
You have been denied disability benefits by an Administrative Law Judge at your Social Security hearing. You filed an appeal with the Social Security Appeals Council.
If they approve the appeal, you can get your disability benefits? Right? Umm Probably not.
Here’s the lowdown that you need to know about what happens at the Appeals Council: Continue reading “Winning” at the Social Security Appeals Council isn’t all it’s cracked up to be
Did you represent yourself at your Social Security disability hearing? If you were denied, you may find it is difficult to find a lawyer to represent you.
Sadly, this is a common problem. It is much harder to hire an attorney after you been denied.
It all comes down to TIME! You only have 65 day to appeal a hearing denial (5 days to receive the notice, and 60 days to get the appeal to Social Security). Note: the appeal must be received by the deadline. Postmarked by the deadline is not enough.
65 days is not a lot of time for a lawyer to do the following:
- Review the hearing decision.
- Review the exhibit file.
- Review your treating providers (doctors).
- Check for missing evidence.
- Obtain missing evidence.
- Review the medical evidence.
- Prepare the legal argument for the appeal.
Keep in mind that lawyers often work with a person applying for Social Security disability benefits for more than a year to get their case ready for hearing. To take on a post hearing case requires compressing all that work into a month or less.
This is another reason to hire an attorney early on your Social Security disability benefits case. If you are working with an attorney before the hearing, they will probably help you if you need to appeal if you are denied at hearing.
If Social Security alleges that you owe them money to repay an overpayment, you have two choices to fight it:
- You can either file a “Waiver of Overpayment,” or
- You can file a “Request for Reconsideration.“
Social Security may direct you towards filing the waiver, but there are some things you should know before making a decision. Continue reading Overpayment choices: reconsideration or waiver
Tim Moore writes about his experience with claimants who wait patiently for Social Security to contact them after filing a claim or an appeal:
In the case of disability applications, some found that while they continued to wait on an answer, a decision had already been made on their case. In fact, the decision had been made so long ago that the 60 day period in which a claimant is entitled to file a disability appeal had already elapsed. In the case of disability appeals, some claimants who patiently waited on an answer regarding their claim…eventually discovered that the appeal they had mailed in had never been received, or had been lost.
Tim’s article discusses the stages where it is critical to know what Social Security is doing on your case. This is especially true if you are going it alone without a lawyer. Continue reading Is your case on track? Call Social Security to make sure!
If you are denied at your Social Security hearing by the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), you have the right to appeal the judge’s decision to the Social Security Appeals Council.
To do this, you need to file form HA-520-U5 “Request for Review of Hearing Decision/Order.” You only have 60 + 5 days to get the appeal to the Appeals Council from the date stamped on the judge’s decision (5 days to receive the decision and 60 days to deliver the appeal).
Note: The appeal must be delivered by the 65th day! Unlike filing your taxes, postmarking the letter on the 65th day is not enough. The appeal must be in the Appeal Council’s hands no later than the last day.
There is the possibility of filing late with the Appeal Council’s permission, but that is not something you want to count on.
Here are a couple of things to keep in mind about the appeal. Continue reading Denied at hearing? Here’s how to appeal the Judge’s decision to Social Security Appeals Council
In my experience with Colorado Social Security cases, hearings are usually scheduled approximately 12-14 months after the appeal is filed. That is the most common time frame that I see for having a hearing scheduled.
However, I occasionally see cases scheduled as early as six months after the appeal (this is pretty rare), and sometimes as late as 18 months.
This is a long time! For most people there is a real question of how they are going to make ends meet while waiting for their case to go in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
However, it is important to try to make the best use of this time: Continue reading How long does It take to get a Social Security hearing?
To be found disabled, generally you have to show that you are unable to perform some type of full-time work. This is a simplification of the Social Security disability standard, but it is sufficient for this article.
The most common problem in Social Security disability claims is a lack of a statement of limitations from a doctor.
These statements go by different names:
- Medical Source Statement (this is the term Social Security uses).
- Medical Opinion.
- Statement of Limitations.
- Statement of Permanent Restrictions.
Whatever it is called, it tells Social Security what you can and cannot do. Social Security uses this to decide whether you are disabled.
Isn’t there a statement of limitations already in my medical records?
Most medical records contain a description of your symptoms, the objective findings, the doctors assessment, and the treatment plan. Most medical records do not have any statement of your limitations.
Continue reading The one element missing in most Social Security cases: a medical opinion of limitations
I often hear the following question:
I just got my Social Security denial letter. Should I appeal or reapply?
While every case is different, based on my experiences handling Social Security claims in Colorado, I often find the you stand a better chance by appealing rather than re-applying.
If you reapply, your case may be reviewed by the same person who denied you the first time. Chances are they will not change their mind.
By appealing, you take the case out of the hands of the person who denied you, and put it in front of a fresh pair of eyes. Sometimes you can present the same case on appeal, and the fact that the new person does not have any preconceived notions about it, will allow them to approve your case.
Why would you ever want to reapply then? There are cases where a clean break from the prior evidence is a good thing. Sometimes, when I see the following in a case, I may encourage the person to reapply:
- Drug use or alcohol abuse.
- Incorrect evidence. A mistaken “fact” that keeps getting repeated over and over but cannot be disproven.
- Unhelpful doctor.
- A period of no treatment.
Of course, this is not a complete list. There can be other reasons which can suggest a new claim may be better than an appeal.
However, whenever considering dropping the old case, keep in mind that there are issues such as the date last insured which can prevent you from being able to reapply!