Bone is made up of living tissues, so even when you're fully grown, your bones are engaged in a constant cycle of breakdown and rebuilding. Unfortunately, this process slows as you age, causing old bone to be lost faster than new bone is created. In turn, this leads to a loss of mass and results in weak, brittle bones that are prone to breaking.
When you have osteoporosis, this bone fragility can be so extreme that the physical exertion associated with performing basic daily tasks can be sufficient to cause a fracture. Obviously, if you can't cough or even bend over without risking broken bones, holding a job and participating in substantial gainful activity can be difficult, if not impossible. Sadly, the Social Security Administration (SSA) denied your application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, leaving you wondering what to do next.
Here's what you need to know about appealing a denied SSDI claim, qualifying for benefits for osteoporosis, and how Keefe Disability Law's exceptional attorneys can guide you every step of the way.
Appealing a Denied SSDI Claim
After you receive the denial letter from the SSA, you have 60 days to initiate an appeal, either online or by completing forms SSA-561, SSA-827, and SSA-3441 and submitting them to the Social Security office nearest you. There are four stages in the appeals process: reconsideration, hearing before an administrative law judge, Appeals Council review, and federal court review. At each stage, you generally have 60 days to appeal the decision.
SSA Appeals Process Overview
- Reconsideration. The first step in the appeals process, reconsideration consists of a thorough review of your claim by an examiner or medical professional who wasn't involved in the first determination. You can request reconsideration for a medical or non-medical denial, and submit new or additional evidence for the SSA to use when making its decision.
- Hearing by an administrative law judge. If Disability Determination Services (DDS) denies your reconsideration request, you can ask for a hearing before an administrative law judge or ALJ who wasn't involved in the initial or reconsideration stages. During this hearing, the ALJ will review the evidence in your case and listen to testimony from you and other witnesses – including experts – before making a determination.
- Appeals Council review. If the ALJ rules against you, you can ask the SSA Appeals Council to review the case. A panel of members will review the ALJ's ruling, as well as any new evidence or information, before announcing its determination. The council can affirm, change, or reverse the decision, or order a new hearing.
- Federal Court review. If the Appeals Council denied your request for a review or you disagree with its determination, you can file a civil lawsuit in Federal district court as a last resort.
Qualifying for SSDI for Osteoporosis
Generally speaking, there are two ways to qualify for SSDI: meeting a listing in the SSA's Blue Book Listing of Impairments or equaling a listing by showing that your condition is as disabling as one that qualifies for benefits. Because osteoporosis isn't included in the Listing of Impairments, equaling a listing is the only path to approval and requires completing a Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) assessment. This is a lengthy analysis of your work history and occupational skills, as well as the physical demands of your job and the limitations and impairments caused by your osteoporosis.
Important Information and Evidence to Include
- The presence of advanced symptoms, such as frequent fractures, severe lower back pain, stooped posture, noticeable loss of height, or shortness of breath (caused by reduced lung capacity)
- The results of a bone density test can offer insight into future bone health
- X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs
- Results of other screening tests, such as peripheral DXA and quantitative ultrasound (QUS)
- Blood test results
Talk to Us About Your Appeal
Learning that your SSDI claim has been denied can be frustrating. Fortunately, a denial letter isn't the end of the road. Let Keefe Disability Law's knowledgeable and experienced Boston disability attorneys review your case and guide you through the appeals process. Contact us online or call 508-283-5500 (toll-free 888-904-6847) to schedule a complimentary initial consultation.
Are You Looking for a Social Security Disability Attorney in Boston, MA?
If you are looking to apply for social security disability, you need to speak with an experienced social security disability lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Natick Office directly at 888.904.6847 to schedule your free consultation.