Expert advice for what to do when your disability claim is denied

Frank Darras Founding Partner and Disability Lawyer DarrasLaw, America’s Top Disability Firm
Expert advice for what to do when your disability claim is denied

When your disability claim gets denied, it can be a devastating blow. It’s important that you do your research and follow the appeals process closely to ensure you receive your benefits. One wrong move can mean the difference between living comfortably and your claim being denied. Here is some simple advice to guide you when your disability claims is denied.


Do

Do a timely appeal, ASAP

When a Social Security Disability or SSI benefit claim is denied, you only have 60 days to appeal. Most denied claims are not appealed because claimants give up on the process, t miss the deadline or file a brand new claim. When you file an appeal late or file a brand new claim, you will then lose your right to an appeal and will be forced to start over at the very beginning with a new application. Be sure to contact a disability insurance lawyer and file an appeal as soon as possible.

Do hire a disability lawyer

If your claim is denied, you should start researching disability lawyers and hire one that has experience and a good track record. Initial claims have a denial rate of about 65% and reconsiderations (the first step in the appeal process) are denied at 85%. It’s when you get to the next step, an ALJ hearing that you will absolutely need a disability lawyer. By hiring one as soon as your claim is denied you can rest assured that your case will properly “developed” prior to a hearing date. Experienced disability lawyers will know what a judge will be looking for, what questions to ask your doctor, and have expertise on Social Security rules and regulations.

Do learn why you were denied

Take the time to learn the most common reasons people get denied and read over your denial letter to see how you fit in. Some of the most common reasons are earning too much income, short-term disability (your impairment won’t last more than a year), they can’t reach you, you refuse to cooperate, you fail to follow the doctor’s orders, your disability is caused by drug addiction or alcoholism, you’ve been convicted of a crime, or you commit disability fraud. Understanding why you were denied is the first step in preparing a successful appeals case.

Do ask to see your file

Call the Office of Hearings and Appeals as soon as you get an exhibit list and get a copy of your “exhibit file”. It contains the only information that the judge has about you. If you know of any medical information not in your file, such as hospital records, therapist’s notes, doctor’s records, or x-ray reports, get copies of them to judge before the hearing.

Do add to your medical report

Many cases are denied because the Social Security Administration believes the person is not disabled. If this is the case, ask to see the medical evidence in your file. Make sure that every doctor you’ve seen has submitted a report. If your doctor did submit a report, ask that they send an additional one with more information in support of your disability. If the SSA sent you to do a doctor for their own evaluation, ask the SSA to pay for another evaluation from your treating doctor. The report needs to specifically identify why you cannot work. The doctor’s testimony is essential to proving your disability.


Don't

Do not file a brand new claim

Filing a new claim is not a good idea for a variety of reasons. An additional claim for disability will likely be denied for the same reason as the first one. It can also lead to a loss of appeal rights and force you to have to start over from the very beginning again. Be patient and wait out the appeal process.

Do not miss the appeals deadline

You must appeal within 60 days plus 5 days for mailing of the date you received the notice of denial. You can do this by filling out a “Request for Reconsideration” form. You can obtain this form at your local Social Security office, by calling their toll-free phone number, or on their website. If your form is late, you must have a really good reason (family emergency, etc) or you lose your right to appeal.

Do not try and represent yourself

Trying to represent yourself at an ALJ hearing might seem like a good way to save money, it can actually end up costing you in the end. While hiring a disability attorney can’t guarantee you will be awarded Social Security Disability benefits, it does DOUBLE your chances of winning your case. The average person has no idea how to properly and successfully prepare a disability case for a hearing and hiring an experienced lawyer with a proven track record is necessary to guide you.

Do not forget to update your case

After your initial claim is denied, you will be asked to file additional paperwork. They want to know how your circumstances have changed since the last time the case was considered. It’s also an opportunity for you to add additional evidence of your own. Make sure you’ve submitted all copies of paperwork and medical records, get an additional evaluation from a doctor (or more support from your primary care physician), ask your old employer for occupational information. This is your opportunity to paint a more detailed picture of how your disability restricts and limits you from performing an occupation for gain or profit.

Do not get discouraged

It can take months for your hearing to occur. While the wait can be exhausting, both mentally and financially, it is worth it when you’re finally awarded your benefits. Use this time productively to gather up all the evidence you can to build a strong case. A top-notch disability lawyer can also win you back pay for all the time you should have been receiving benefits. Don’t give up…you will reap the benefits you are owed.


Summary
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If your disability claim gets denied, it can be devastating physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. Make sure to file your appeal within 60 days and consult an experienced disability lawyer as soon as possible. By following the guidelines, gathering additional evidence, and being patient but proactive, you can receive the disability benefits you deserve.


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Frank DarrasFounding Partner and Disability Lawyer

Frank N. Darras made a decision nearly a quarter century ago that would affect tens of thousands of Americans. Darras took the road less traveled to help the sick, disabled, and elderly mount a heroic fight against billion-dollar insurance compa...

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