If you have applied for Massachusetts Social Security Administration (SSA) disability benefits and your application was denied, you are not alone. Up to 60% of initial requests are turned down. In fact, most benefits are awarded through the appeals process.
SSA Disability Appeals Process
The best chance you have to get benefits is to appeal and possibly have your case heard before an administrative law judge. So, how does the SSA disability appeals process work?
- First, you must file an Appeal Request and Appeal Disability Report within a 60-day deadline. If you miss this deadline, most of the time, you will be asked to re-file your original application. There is a "good cause" exception if you had a good reason for missing the deadline.
- If the reconsideration appeal fails, your next recourse is a hearing before an administrative law judge. This step also has a 60-day deadline from the date of the first appeal.
- If the judge denies you, your next option is to take your case to the appeals council. You will fill out a "Request for Review of Decision/Order of Administrative Law Judge." The appeals council will look at the judge's ruling and decide if there were any legal or SSA policy mistakes. The council can reverse the judge's ruling, order a second hearing or deny you again.
- Finally, if all else fails, you can take your case to federal district court where a final decision will be made. If you make it this far on your own, you must have legal representation for this final step.
Your Legal Right to Representation
Appealing an SSA disability claim decision is a long and often confusing process. That is why you have a legal right to representation. While the SSA will help you through the process, you also have the option of having someone else help you and serve as your "representative." Your representative:
- May be a friend or other non-legal person.
- Must not have been suspended or disqualified from representing others before the SSA.
- Must complete the SSA-1696 form, "Appointment of Representative," or send a written statement naming your representative to the SSA.
- Must be trustworthy and an expert in disability law. If inaccurate information is provided, both you and your representative may face criminal prosecution.
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.