Written by: Bruce L. Weider | 4.01.2024

How to Navigate the Social Security Disability Appeal Process

According to research from USA Facts, the Social Security Administration (SSA) denied two-thirds of all disability applications in 2022. An initial denial from the SSA is often the first stage in a time-consuming, complex appeals process that can last months or even years. At the end of this process, however, many applicants achieve favorable results and gain access to important benefits. In order to navigate the Social Security appeals process effectively, applicants may wish to work alongside experienced Michigan Social Security disability lawyers. Call Bruce L. Weider, PC at (734) 485-0535 to determine the most appropriate next steps and to ensure your legal rights remain protected. 

When to File a Social Security Appeal

Applicants must first consider whether they are eligible to appeal a denied Social Security application. They may only file appeals within 60 days of receiving decisions from the SSA, and they may lose the right to a hearing if they do not act quickly enough. The Social Security Administration states that if an applicant has a valid reason for delaying, however, they may extend this deadline. 

Many situations could lead to an incorrect denial of Social Security benefits. The SSA denies numerous applications before even considering medical conditions – often because applicants did not work enough hours to qualify for Social Security coverage. Once medical conditions enter the equation, the SSA typically denies claims because applicants do not meet their definition of “disabled.” A disabled individual must have a condition that will last at least one year, and this condition must prevent them from earning a certain amount of income. This amount is $2,260 per month for blind individuals and $1,350 for everyone else. Once an applicant learns why the SSA has denied their claim, they can appeal the decision if they believe the decision is incorrect. To gain a more complete understanding of why the SSA denied their claim, applicants may wish to consult with Bruce L. Weider, PC. 

What Are the Five Stages of a Social Security Appeal?

A Social Security appeal can span five total stages. Note that only some appeals progress to the last stage, and the SSA may reconsider their decision after only the first stage of this process. 

  1. How to File a Request for Reconsideration

Within 60 days of receiving a decision from the SSA, applicants may file a request for reconsideration. This is the easiest stage of the appeals process, and it involves two forms: The reconsideration form and the Disability Appeal Report. During this process, applicants must describe their medical conditions, work situation, and daily life. Agencies in Michigan may then schedule a consultative examination, which involves an assessment by a doctor selected by the SSA. The purpose of this examination is to determine whether an applicant is healthy enough to work. 

  1. How to File a Request for a Hearing

If the request for reconsideration results in a second denial, an applicant has 60 days to request a hearing with the SSA. Before the hearing, the applicant must fill out a number of new forms with updated information about their medical condition, work activity, and so on. 

Various parties will be present at the hearing, including a judge, medical experts, and expert witnesses. These hearings give applicants the opportunity to tell their side of the story, but applicants should also prepare to answer numerous questions. This questioning is often difficult and stressful – and it is important to answer with absolute honesty. Social security lawyers in Michigan can represent applicants during these trials – offering oral arguments, presenting evidence, and generally pursuing positive outcomes on behalf of their clients. 

  1. How to Request a Review from the Appeals Council

If the hearing fails to generate positive results, an applicant may request a review from the Appeals Council. Once again, a 60-day time limit applies after the judge makes their decision. The Appeals Council consists of dozens of judges and officers within the SSA, and they will consider the case to determine whether the judge made some kind of legal error at the hearing. Depending on the situation, the Appeals Council may uphold the original decision, order a second trial with the same judge, or make a new decision about the application without another hearing. 

  1. How to File a Social Security Appeal Case in Federal Court

The Appeals Council represents the final stage of the Security Security appeal process. If this option fails, applicants may elect to go beyond the SSA and take their case to the federal court. The first stage in this process is to file their case in the United States District Court, and applicants will need to choose the court closest to their residence. A District Court Judge will then review the merits of the case. Although they can overrule the SSA, they are more likely to order a second hearing. 

  1. How to File a Social Security Appeal in the Circuit Court of Appeals

If the United States District Court does not provide an applicant with a favorable decision, they can take their case to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals. The Sixth Circuit has jurisdiction in Michigan.

Can You Appeal to the Supreme Court After a Social Security Denial?

It is technically possible to take a denied Social Security Claim to the highest possible court in the United States: The United States Supreme Court. While this is possible, however, the likelihood of the Supreme Court hearing these cases is quite slim. They are under no obligation to hear the case of a denied Social Security applicant, and the court can simply decline to consider it. 

Contact a Michigan Social Security Lawyer Today To Learn More

The average disabled individual in Michigan may not understand all of their legal options to navigate the complex Social Security appeal process. These individuals are often preoccupied with medical treatments, rehabilitation processes, and the daily challenges of living with a mental or physical impediment. With these factors in mind, it may make sense to delegate the appeals process to a legal professional – someone who has extensive experience with the Social Security appeal process. Choose Bruce L. Weider, PC, call (734) 485-0535, and start working with an experienced Social Security lawyer in Michigan today.

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