It is not at all uncommon for an application for Social Security Disability benefits to be denied. In fact, 65 percent of first-time claims for benefits are denied. However, having your application denied does not mean you should give up. There is still a chance you could be approved on appeal. With the help of an experienced New Mexico Social Security Disability attorney, you can increase your odds of approval and get on the road to recovery even faster.
Avoid a First-Time Denial With a Complete Application
When you work with an attorney on your initial application, you can reduce your risk of being denied and save yourself a lot of time and aggravation. As an applicant, you must have a qualifying disability and provide medical evidence to prove it. Your application must be complete and accurate and must be submitted within certain time limits. How you describe your previous work experience can affect the outcome of your claim. A detailed job description that emphasizes the strenuous nature of your job can help support your claim. If you contact Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) attorney before filling out your initial application, he or she can ensure that you submit a detailed application. If the claim is denied for whatever reason, your attorney will be ideally positioned to begin an immediate appeal.
It Is Never Too Late to Call an Attorney
Even if you do not call an attorney before your initial application, you can hire an attorney to help with your appeal. The SSDI appeals process is long and involved—and it is challenging to navigate on your own—especially when you are unable to work and struggling to get by. It takes an average of 106 days to get your initial determination. If you are denied, you can file for reconsideration within 60 days of the decision. At this first level of appeal, you are asking the Social Security Administration to reconsider your initial application. There is no point in resubmitting the exact same application as it is likely to be denied as well. An SSDI attorney can review your application and help you build a stronger claim. You can submit additional evidence to support your claim and your application will be reviewed by someone who was not involved in the initial denial. These reviews can take up to 95 days.
What If You Are Denied Again?
If you disagree with the reconsideration decision, you can take your claim to the next level by asking for a hearing. A hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is a very important part of the appeals process. During the hearing, the judge is asked to make an independent ruling that ignores previous denials. Judges at this level usually rule in favor of the claimant roughly 44 percent of the time. Clients who are represented by an attorney at the hearing have more success than those without attorneys.
The informal Social Security hearing is nothing like a trial. It takes place in a small conference room—not a courtroom—and no lawyer is present to argue against the claimant. The ALJ merely attempts to learn the facts. You will be asked to testify about your work history, education, medical history, symptoms, perceived work limitations, and daily activities. Your attorney will prepare you for these questions in advance and help you make a strong appeal that describes the physical and emotional suffering you have endured. Your attorney can also ask questions to make sure you have every opportunity to describe your disability and will make a closing argument on your behalf. Following your hearing, you will have a decision in 12-18 months.
One More Chance
If you are denied after your hearing, you may request a review by the Social Security Appeals Council. If the council feels the decision of the ALJ was correct, your request will be denied. If the council finds cause for a review, it will either issue a decision itself or return it to another ALJ for further review. This process can take another year.
Don’t Go It Alone
As you can see, this can be a long and difficult process and the longer it takes to get an approval, the longer you are waiting for benefits. Don’t risk it. Contact an SSDI attorney at the Albuquerque office of Keller and Keller today.