Tips for a Social Security Disability Appeal

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The rumor and reality is that it is difficult to qualify for Social Security disability but not impossible. Though Bankrate reports that 65.4% of first time applicants are denied, the process includes several different levels of appeal. Those with legitimate disabilities should not be discouraged. By exactly following the instructions provided by Social Security in the denial letter and paying heed to a few not-so-well-known tips, you may find yourself among the one-third of all claimants who ultimately are found eligible for disability.

Pay Attention to Dates

There are four separate levels of appeal during the Social Security disability process, each defined by a specific time frame during which you must respond, in writing, regarding your intention to appeal the previous rejection. The surest way to lose your appeal is to miss the deadline. Conversely, the best tip for a successful disability appeal is to reply in a timely fashion to any letters you receive from Social Security. Each will plainly state the reason(s) for the disability denial and the exact steps that should be followed to appeal the decision

Legal Help

If you are unwilling or unable to handle an appeal on your own, consider hiring a lawyer. Disability attorneys require no fee up front but receive up to 25% of the back payment lump sum you receive after a successful award of disability status. If you don't win, you pay nothing. If you decide to hire an attorney for your appeal, do your homework. At the initial consultation don't be afraid to ask for references from former clients and then actually call and talk to them. A firm that acts offended at such a request is one that should be marked off the list. Years of experience in pursuing Social Security claims shouldn't be the only determining factor on the one you eventually hire. Of high importance also it that they're responsive and you feel comfortable dealing with them.

Dire Need

The backlog of disability hearings has stretched into the months and years, so long that it puts a severe financial strain on claimants. In severe cases, Social Security will allow you to jump to the head of the line if you send a “dire need” letter describing severe financial circumstances. There are no guarantees this approach will be successful but the avenue is available. Causes that are sometimes successful are loss of ability to pay for medication, eviction, or foreclosure. Take heed that your situation is actually dire before going this route. The agency may not look kindly upon a frivolous claim of dire need, so don't jeopardize your case by trying to generate a sense of false urgency.

File a New Claim

At any stage of the appeals process, you can file an entirely new claim rather than pursuing the one that has been denied. While there's no clear advantage to this strategy, you might be psychologically burned out and needing a fresh start. Filing a new appeal also allows you to easily incorporate changes in your medical condition and provide new medical evidence from additional doctors you have seen.


About the Author

Derek Dowell has ghostwritten dozens of projects and thousands of blogs in the real estate, Internet marketing and travel industry, as well as completed the novel "Chrome Sombrero." He holds a Bachelor of Science in environmental legal studies from Missouri State University.

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