If the Social Security Administration (SSA) denied you a disability claim for liver disease, you might be able to win an appeal by working with a Social Security attorney.
The SSA has established four distinct steps in the appeals process that starts with reconsideration and then moves to other steps like a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge, an Appeals Council Review, and an appeal filed with the appropriate federal district court.
Step 1: Reconsideration
The denial form issued by the SSA should let you know how long you have to file an appeal. As the first step in the appeal process, reconsideration involves the same SSA office that reviewed your first claim. Although it is the same office, it will not involve the same examiner of the original disability application.
The same review rules that the SSA applied to the original claim will be applied during the reconsideration process. With more than 85 percent of claims denied at the reconsideration level, you can expect to take your case to the next step of the appeals process. To beat the long odds, you should submit additional evidence that boosts your claim.
Step 2: Hearing in Front of an Administrative Law Judge
Your attorney might request a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ makes an independent decision based on the evidence submitted by your attorney.
Your testimony and medical documentation are the two most important factors that can convince the judge to approve your appeal. The ALJ might ask for witnesses to make statements under oath, such as your physician and/or vocational trainer.
After analyzing all the evidence, the ALJ will issue a written decision that you and your lawyer receive via a formal letter.
Step 3: Appeals Council Review
The third step of the appeals process is the step when you should rely on a Social Security Attorney to handle your claim. Many of the appeals approved by the Appeals Council are because of a legal and/or technical error made by the ALJ. A social security lawyer will have extensive knowledge of the Social Security laws and regulations established for the disability claim and appeal process.
Whenever the Appeals Council receives a request to review a claim, the members of the council meet to decide whether to accept the claim. The focus of the council members is determining whether the ALJ made a correct decision based on the evidence that you submitted. It is important to note that all correspondence, which includes the arguments made by your attorney, is done in writing.
Step 4: Federal District Court
If you take your case to the last step of the appeals process, your lawyer will file an opening brief with the appropriate federal district court.
An opening brief analyzes the decision made by the ALJ, with the focus on presenting evidence that the ALJ failed to consider during the hearing. Federal district court appeal decisions are based on a written opening brief, which means you need to hire a Social Security attorney who has filed several persuasive opening briefs.
If your claim is denied by a federal court judge, you have to start over by submitting a new disability claim with the SSA.
Contact a Social Security Lawyer
Working with a Social Security attorney greatly increases your chance of winning an appeal for disability benefits. Your lawyer will collect the evidence needed to make a convincing case at every stage of the appeals process.