Although disability is technically available for everyone in the United States, getting approved for benefits isn’t always as easy as turning in a form and waiting for your check. In fact, according to the Social Security Administration’s Office of Retirement and Disability Policy, only 30% of disability claims are initially approved. This means that 7 out of 10 claims are determined to not meet SSA qualifications, are put on hold pending further investigation, or are denied outright.
When disability benefits are your last hope, a 30% chance of approval is extremely disheartening. What will you do if you’re part of the unlucky majority?
Offices of Disability Appeals: Who Considers Your Appeal?
Although the majority of disability claims are initially denied, 13% of initially-denied claims are approved upon appeal. This means that, with the help of an experienced disability lawyer, your claim can be reworked and sent to one of the following offices for a second chance and approval reconsideration:
- Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR): ODAR reviews appeals after a claim has been denied by the SSA disability panel. It consists of a nationwide organization of administrative law judges who are responsible for reviewing appeal proposals, holding hearings, and issuing unbiased decisions based on their findings of the case. It is one of the largest administrative adjudication systems in the world and handles appeal determinations for issues involving retirement benefits, survivor benefits, disability, and supplemental security income benefits.
- Office of the Chief Administrative Law Judge (OCAL): OCAL is a component of ODAR that focuses on appeal hearings. If a claimant (or his lawyer) requests an actual hearing, OCAL will preside over the proceedings, appointing one of its 1,300 judges to render a judgement on reconsiderations. Every year, OCAL hands down over 700,000 appeal decisions as a result of hearings.
- Office of Appellate Operations (OAO): The OAO is responsible for handling the last level of review for an appeal. It includes the Appeals Council which quality-reviews over 165,000 hearing decisions from OCAL. In order to make sure that every aspect and tier within ODAR is following proper protocol, the OAO also monitors decisions and practices of every office in order to ensure proper policies are being upheld.
You Need Representation for Your Appeal
Make sure your appeal is as strong as it can be. Contact us today for a free consultation and review of your case. Remember, the right representation can make the difference between a denial and an approval.
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