When you become unable to work through some injury or illness, you may turn to the Social Security Administration for help. You may hesitate to file for benefits because you hear from others that the SSA denies most claims. That may be true, but that does not mean that you shouldn’t try or that you received the SSA’s final answer.
You can ask for a reconsideration of the initial decision. Another individual within the SSA will review your claim and make a determination. If you are fortunate enough to receive a favorable decision at this point, you could consider yourself lucky. Otherwise, you may need to consider filing an appeal.
Time is of the essence
From the day the SSA denies your claim, you have 60 days to request a hearing. The SSA recommends that you assume you have at least five days less than that to account for the time between the decision and your receipt of it. Consider this when deciding to file an appeal. Otherwise, your appeal could be dismissed before you even have a chance to present your argument.
Hearing before an administrative law judge
The first step in that process involves a hearing before an administrative law judge. He or she reviews the evidence of your need for benefits that you previously submitted to support your claim. You have the opportunity to review the evidence currently on file. If you wish to submit additional evidence, you should do so as soon as possible. If you already requested a hearing, the information should go to the administrative law judge in advance of your hearing.
At the hearing, the administrative law judge will often do the following:
- Outline the issues in your claim
- Question you
- Question witnesses you bring
- Question medical and other professionals aware of your condition
- Review all evidence
- Issue a written dismissal or decision
- Send that document to you
While at the hearing, you may also submit additional evidence and question the witnesses. If you believe that the administrative law judge failed to treat you fairly, a complaint may be in order.
Your right to representation
You can involve an attorney in your appeals process, and you should seriously consider doing so. Of course, you may also consider consulting with an attorney before even filing your claim. In either case, a North Carolina attorney who routinely handles Social Security benefits claims could help ensure that the paperwork gets filled out correctly and that as much of the required evidence as possible gets submitted to increase your chances of receiving much needed benefits.