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How to appeal a denied Social Security disability claim

As some people in New York may know firsthand, finding out that your Social Security disability claim has been denied can be frustrating and heartbreaking. Social Security disability provides the financial support that many people who live with disabilities need to make ends meet. Fortunately, a claim denial is not the end of the process. You still have the option to appeal the decision.

The first thing anyone considering an appeal should know is that it must be done within 60 days of learning that a claim was denied. You can request an appeal on Social Security's website or by contacting your local office. Next, you will face up to four steps in the appeal process:

  • Reconsideration. In this step, your claim -- including any new evidence -- will be reviewed by someone who did not participate in the initial review that resulted in a denial. This person will make a decision.
  • Hearing. If your claim is still denied, you can arrange for a hearing before an administrative law judge who did not review your initial claim. You and any witnesses, such as doctors or vocational experts, will be questioned. After the hearing, you will receive a letter with a decision.
  • Appeals Council. If you still aren't happy with the decision, you can request that your claim be reviewed by the Appeals Council. The council can deny a request for review if it agrees with the outcome of the hearing. If it accepts your request, you will receive a letter with a decision.
  • Federal Court. Finally, if the Appeals Council opted not to review your claim or again denied you benefits, you can take your case to federal court.

Appealing a claim can be a stressful process, but for those who deserve benefits, it is usually worth it. The process can get complicated at times, however, so it is often helpful to have a legal professional on your side.

Source: ssa.gov, "The Appeals Process," Oct. 24, 2013

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