When filing a SSI or SSDI claim with the Social Security Administration, the statistics show approximately 65% of initial benefits claims are denied. The majority of claimants are initially denied simply because the medical evidence wasn’t substantial enough to support the claim on the first review. Though these facts seem bleak, don’t be discouraged.
The single most important tip for dealing with denied SSI or SSDI cases is: appeal appeal, appeal. It is during this process that you have the best chance of winning you claim. If you find yourself with a denied claim, you can immediately file an appeal where your chances of for success improve a great deal. It is important that you file your appeal within the 60 day allotted period after the initial denial. The consequences of filing late could mean you lose the right to appeal and would have to start the process again.
There are a couple of ways to file an appeal:
1. Online at the official Social Security Administration. This useful site will guide you through the process of filing an appeal electronically.
2. Hard copy. You can fill out form by hand and either send it through the mail or hand deliver the documents to your local Social Security Office. The forms can be downloaded and printed from the official SSA website or from your local SS office.
After you file an appeal, you can choose one of two or sometimes three options. The first is a case review, in which individuals who were not involved in the denial of your claim review the case and evidence you provide and make a decision. The second choice is an informal conference. In this situation, you are able to present your case to the reviewers personally, presenting your evidence and calling witnesses if necessary. The third alternative, a formal conference, only applies if you are appealing the termination, reduction, or suspension of your benefits. In a formal conference, you are allowed to subpoena an adverse witness who can be cross examined.
In any of the preceding instances, it’s usually a good idea to have legal counsel.