For those suffering a disability in West Virginia and elsewhere, it can be difficult to meet all the financial responsibilities required of an individual or a family. In some cases, a serious or permanent disability can make it difficult or impossible to work, thus, making it challenging to make an income to cover living expenses. In these matters, an individual will likely seek Social Security disability benefits; however, not all applicants are approved. In these cases, an applicant may want to exercise the person’s right to appeal a denied application for disability benefits.
What is the appeals process for SSD benefits? Following a denial, an applicant has 60 days to make a written request for an appeal. The appeal process is made up of four levels. The first level is reconsideration, which is followed by a hearing by an administrative law judge. The third level is a review by the Appeals Council and the final level is a Federal Court review.
Reconsideration is a complete review of an applicant’s claim. Someone who did not take part in the first decision completes this review. At this level of review, all evidence submitted when the original decision was made plus any new evidence will be looked at. This process can normally be conducted without the need for an applicant being present.
When an applicant disagrees with the decision made at reconsideration, the person may ask for a hearing. An administrative law judge that had no part in the original decision or the reconsideration of the claim conducts this. It is usually advantageous to attend the hearing because this could assist with the explanation of the applicant’s case.
If an applicant does not agree with the decision made at the hearing, could the person can request for a review by the Social Security’s Appeals Council. During this process, the Appeals Council looks at all of the requests made for review; however, a request might be denied if the Council believes the hearing decision was correct. If a case is reviewed, it will either be decided by the Appeals Council or returned to an administrative law judge for further review.
If an applicant disagrees with the decision of the Appeals Council or the Appeals Council decides to not review an applicant’s case, the person may file a lawsuit in a federal district court.
The appeals process can be lengthy and complex; therefore, it is imperative that applicants fully understand what options are available to them. This will help them better protect the person’s rights and interests in the matter.