Many qualified people get their application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) denied. If you are one of these people, it is important to know that you are not out of options. The lawyers at Harbison & Kavanagh have helped many clients appeal their denied SSDI applications to get them the benefits they deserve for their illness or injury, and they are here to help you, too.
Request for Reconsideration
In Virginia, the first step to appealing a denied SSDI application is to file a request for reconsideration for the initial denial. This is done by Disability Determination Services (DDS), usually performed by a medical consultant that was not part of the initial review. Typically, about five to ten percent of denied applications are granted benefits at this level.
Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge
If your application is denied by DDS, the next step is to appeal it up to a hearing by an administrative law judge. This must be done within sixty days of the request for reconsideration denial. The administrative law judge will hear the evidence regarding your disability and reasons why you should qualify for benefits before rendering a decision. Usually, about half of all applications are granted benefits at the administrative law judge hearing.
Review by the Appeals Council
If the administrative law judge further denies your application, the next step is to appeal up to a review by the Appeals Council. It is not guaranteed that the Council will review your application. They pick cases at random to review and possess the discretion to grant, deny, or dismiss your appeal at this level. Your application can be dismissed without review unless one of the following issues is discovered:
- Abuse of discretion or error of law by an administrative law judge;
- The decision was not supported by the evidence presented; or
- A broad policy or procedural issue.
Filing late, request for dismissal, and death also allow the Appeals Council to dismiss a case without review. Only about two to three percent of all applications are granted benefits at this stage. The final option for appeal following the Appeals Council is to take the case to federal court review.
Federal Court Review
The final appeal option for a denied SSDI application is federal court review. At this level, a federal judge in a U.S. District Court will make a bench ruling, without a jury, regarding your disability case. Typically, a federal judge is only supposed to make rulings based on whether there was a legal error at any stage of the appeals process, but they sometimes make factual findings, as well. Generally, the federal court grants benefits in very few cases, but they do send back, or remand, around half of the denied application back to a lower level for further review.
Contact Us for Help with a Denied SSDI Application
If your application for SSDI benefits was denied or if you have attempted to appeal with no results, the disability lawyers at Harbison & Kavanagh may be able to help. Call the office or contact us today in the Richmond area to schedule an appointment to discuss your case.