How Does The Social Security Appeal Process Work?

June 16th, 2014 | by RON BELL

Applying for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) is a complex and frustrating process.  It can take up to one year to receive an approval or denial of your disability application.  If that isn’t long enough, it may be up to an 18 month wait to get a hearing date after filing an appeal on a denied disability claim.  Once an appeal hearing is heard by a Social Security judge, the final decision can take another month or so to be issued to the disabled individual.  Part of the problem is the SSA procedure used to issue those decisions.  After the appeal hearing, the judge completes a form with his decision and reasoning behind the decision to a staff legal writer.  The writer then takes the judges notes and drafts a written decision which will say: fully favorable; partially favorable; or unfavorable.

The typical Social Security disability appeal hearing decision consists of about ten or so pages of explanation.  More than half of this explanation is standard text and used on most decisions.  The rest of the SSDI appeal decision relates specifically to the case.  The judge specifies all medical treatment and how much weight he assigned to those medical treatment records.  In an unfavorable case, the judge will look for specific medical records which suggest that the person isn’t as impaired as claimed to be.  If  the case involves a conflicting medical opinion, the appeal judge has to state which provider he feels is more credible than the other and why.  All hearing decisions are subject to be audited at random by the Appeals Council.  Therefore most SSA judges make an effort to explain the reasons behind their decisions, both as a courtesy and as a condition of the job.

If you have filed a SSDI application and been denied, contact an injury attorney who has experience in filing Social Security appeals.  Together with the experience of a New Mexico disability law firm the disabled individual has a better chance of winning an appeal hearing.  The Social Security attorney can represent the disabled person in court and ensure their rights are protected.

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