The Social Security Administration works hard to prevent applicants from receiving benefits when they are not eligible. This is probably something you approve of since fraudulent claims take funds away from those who truly need them. Nevertheless, the consequence of being so diligent about evaluating each claim is that agents reject many claims that may be valid.
Simple mistakes on your application or a lack of supporting evidence for your disability are just two reasons why the SSA may deny your request for benefits. Fortunately, when the SSA denies a claim on the first try, it is not necessarily the end of the line. There are several steps you can take if you disagree with the decision the SSA makes.
Make the most of each step
If you are injured or ill and unable to work, you probably have a lot on your mind, so it may be difficult to focus on the instructions and details of your disability claim. Receiving a letter that the SSA has denied your claim for benefits can be devastating, but you have no time to waste on emotions. You have four more chances to try for an approval, but you certainly want to reach that goal as quickly as possible. The next steps after a denial include the following:
- Requesting a reconsideration involves having a new agent review the evidence you submitted the first time and any new information you can supply.
- If the SSA still denies your claim, you can ask for a hearing in front of an administrative judge, who will review your case and any new information you add.
- The Appeals Council will decide whether to review your case next if you still do not get approval, but not every case is accepted for the Council.
- Filing a lawsuit in federal court is the final option if the Appeals Council refuses to hear your case or if the Council denies your appeal.
Just like any legal process, you have a limited number of chances to fight for the benefits you need. If you are not happy about the thought of going through each of these steps and then an exhausting and complex lawsuit in Minnesota federal court, you will want to make sure your next step addresses every factor that led to your denial. For many, this is an overwhelming process, and without professional legal assistance, too many use up their chances for appeal without reaching their goals.