Was your Social Security Disability (SSD) claim denied by the Florida Division of Disability Determinations (DDD) and you are unsure of what to do next? The DDD is responsible for determining medical eligibility for Florida citizens seeking disability benefits through the federal Social Security Administration (SSA) disability programs.
If the DDD has denied your claim, you may file an appeal for SSD benefits. However, you only have 60 days from the date you received your determination letter from the DDD to appeal the decision denying your benefits.
Depending upon how far you need to go in the appeal process, you can benefit from obtaining legal counsel to assist you. According to one survey, your claim has nearly twice the chance of being approved if you are represented by a disability attorney at the hearing level. Continue reading as our Social Security Disability Attorney discusses the appeal levels and how an attorney can help you receive a favorable appeal decision.
SSD Appeal Levels
There are four SSD appeal levels:
- Request for Reconsideration
- Hearing Before an Administrative Law Judge
- Review by the Appeals Council
- Federal Court Review
In most situations, it is easier to request an appeal than to reapply for benefits. This is because, statistically, your chances for approval of your application for SSD benefits are much better at certain appeal levels than with your initial application.
Although not a requirement, having a Social Security Disability Lawyer by your side can significantly improve your chances of winning your disability appeal.
Request for Reconsideration
A request for reconsideration is the first level of the appeals process. It is a thorough examination of your claim assigned to a different disability examiner from the DDD who was not involved in the initial decision. All the evidence submitted in the original determination will be reviewed, along with any new evidence. You can request this reconsideration online.
A lawyer is not required for you to file a reconsideration appeal. Still, one can assist you in determining why your original application was denied and strengthen your application so that it can be approved during the reconsideration process.
If you lose the reconsideration, you should consider hiring a lawyer to represent you at the appeal hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
Hearing Before an ALJ
You’ll have 60 days after the DDD denies your request for reconsideration to request a hearing before an ALJ. At the hearing, the ALJ will consider the medical evidence you have provided, your testimony and any other witnesses’ testimony, and then render a decision in your case.
There are many ways to win at a hearing, but you’ll need the assistance of someone such as a disability attorney skilled at making the appropriate arguments. Your attorney can prepare you for the questions asked by the ALJ during the hearing. In addition, your attorney can assist you in collecting and organizing additional medical evidence that you submitted with your initial claim and appeal for reconsideration. Your attorney will also have experience in cross-examining an expert witness.
Review by the Appeals Council
If the ALJ denied or dismissed your claim, you could request a Social Security Appeals Council review. The Appeals Council is comprised of Administrative Appeals Judges and may also review a decision within 60 days of the ALJ’s ruling on its own motion. The Appeals Council evaluates the record evidence, any additional evidence submitted by the claimant, and the ALJ’s findings and conclusions.
A request for review may be granted, denied, or dismissed by the Appeals Council. If the Appeals Council agrees to review your case, it may uphold, modify, or reverse the ALJ’s decision, or it may send back the case to the ALJ so that they can hold a new hearing and issue a new decision.
Federal Court Review
If the Appeals Council does not review your case or the ALJ’s decision is not overturned, you can file a lawsuit in federal district court. This step can only be taken after all other appeals have been exhausted. You have 60 days from the date you receive notification of the Appeals Council’s decision to file an appeal.
Will Hiring an SSD Lawyer Make a Difference in Your Case?
Is it possible to appeal a disability denial on your own? Yes, but as you can see from the appeals process discussed above, you’re probably better off hiring a social security disability lawyer. At any stage of the appeals process, competent legal representation can significantly improve your chances of obtaining the desired result. According to Martindale-Nolo Research, approximately 70% of applicants hired a disability attorney to assist with their appeal, nearly doubling their approval chances.
An experienced SSD attorney can assist you throughout the entire application process, from gathering the necessary documents, medical records, and personal information to confirming your condition and submitting an accurate application to the SSA.
DiBiaggio Law: Your “Social Security Disability Attorney Near Me” in West Palm Beach, Florida
Are you unsure whether you should pursue an SSD appeal and frustrated with your online search for “social security disability attorneys near me?” Please don’t put off consulting a social security disability attorney until it is too late to file your appeal. At DiBiaggio Law, we will help you determine if you have a valid claim and advise you on pursuing your case. We also take cases on a contingency fee basis.
To set up your free consultation, call us at (561) 473-9800. DiBiaggio Law is based in West Palm Beach, Florida, and serves clients in Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.