The official rules of golf say you must play your ball where it lies. The unofficial rules of golf allow players to take a mulligan. A mulligan is a do-over. It’s a chance to take another shot when your ball doesn’t end up where you planned.
In the Social Security disability world we have our own form of the mulligan — a robust appeals process that allows applicants who have had their initial claim denied a second, third, or forth chance to make their case. Seelig Law Offices regularly assists New Yorkers who want to file an appeal after their initial application for Social Security disability benefits is denied.
A majority of all Social Security disability claims are initially denied.
Many denials happen because the paperwork submitted was not filled out properly. The Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn’t care how poorly you are fairing. If you forget to check a box or sign on the wrong line, they will deny your claim.
Other claims are denied because the information needed to support the claim is insufficient. Once again, the SSA doesn’t care how sick you are. If the doctor didn’t supply your whole medical file, or there was some other sort of mixup, your claim will be denied.
While some people give up after their initial claim is denied, you should not hesitate to file an appeal. Every claimant has the right to appeal their denial and attempt to get the benefits he or she deserves.
There are actually four different levels of the SSI or SSDI appeals process. Our firm guides people from across the New York City area through every level if that’s what it takes to ensure our clients get the benefits they deserve.
If you believe your paperwork was in order, and there is nothing you could add to strengthen your case, you may request a simple reconsideration. The Social Security Administration will assign someone in their office who has not previously looked at your file to review your entire claim. In many cases, the reconsideration will be conducted without the need for a personal interview.
If the reconsideration is denied, or you now have additional information that will strengthen your case, you can request a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ). At the hearing, a judge will question you and any witnesses you identify, such as vocational experts or medical providers. At the Seelig Law Group, we help our clients prepare for their hearing by identifying witnesses, ensuring the judge has all the evidence he or she will need to make a decision, and going over the hearing process so you know what to expect.
If you are not satisfied with the administrative law judge’s ruling in your case, you may appeal it to the Social Security Appeals Council. The Appeals Council can do one of three things: 1. Reject your appeal because it thinks the ALJ ruled correctly. 2. Take up your case and make its own ruling. 3. Send the case back down to the administrative law judge for another hearing.
If the Appeals Council denies your request for review of the ALJ’s decision in your case, or rules on your case but you disagree with the decision, you may file a lawsuit in federal court.
Being denied Social Security disability benefits is a terrible disappointment that may have a significant impact on your health and well-being. If your claim for benefits has been denied, do not lose hope. Take a mulligan. File an appeal, and consider working with an experienced Social Security benefits attorney who can help you make your case.