I have heard the stories of people who truly were disabled and could no longer work, but when they got that first denial letter, they just gave up
Belleville, Ill. (Vocus) January 5, 2009
Receiving a denial letter from the Social Security Administration can be devastating, but people with disabilities have the option to appeal the decision, according to Allsup, which represents tens of thousands of people in the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) process each year.
"I have heard the stories of people who truly were disabled and could no longer work, but when they got that first denial letter, they just gave up," said David Bueltemann, supervisor of senior claimant representatives. "In Allsup's experience, there can be many reasons to persevere and appeal the decision."
Getting denied SSDI is a common occurrence. More than 2.6 million people applied for disability benefits in 2008, and SSA routinely denies 65 percent of applications at the initial application, or level 1. That translates into roughly 1.6 million people who received denials.
"It's important to realize that the first denial can be among the early steps in getting Social Security disability benefits for many people," Mr. Bueltemann said. "This is a multi-step process that can be complex but rewarding for people who eventually get their entitled disability benefits."
SSDI is a federally mandated insurance program overseen by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that provides monthly benefits to individuals who are under full retirement age (age 65 or older) and who can no longer work because of a disability (injury, illness or condition) that is expected to last for 12 months or is terminal. Individuals must have paid FICA taxes to be eligible. More details are provided in the "SSDI Overview" on Allsup.com.
You've Been Denied, What Comes Next
Once you've been denied SSDI benefits, the most important next step is to promptly appeal the decision.
This is not the same as reapplying for benefits. "Do not reapply for benefits, but rather file an appeal of the original decision," Mr. Bueltemann said. "This appeal must be filed within 60 days of the denial decision as dated in the letter. So it is a time-sensitive step." If you wait longer than the 60 days, you will have to start over and reapply at the initial level. "There's no good reason to miss the deadline or reapply at the initial level--it's basically just spinning your wheels," Mr. Bueltemann explained.
Keep in mind that if your initial application has been denied, you will have a better chance of being awarded benefits at the hearing level of the SSDI process when an administrative law judge evaluates your case. At this point in the process, also known as level 3, more than 60 percent of claimants are awarded benefits, according to the SSA. For claimants who reach level 3 with Allsup as their representative, more than 90 percent are awarded benefits. More can be found online in the section, "Why Allsup?"
Applicants shouldn't be surprised to see there will be additional paperwork at the appeal level. The initial application contains a lot of information, but the appeal must provide additional details--including insights on how the claimant's circumstances have changed since the last time their case was considered.
"It's always important for claimants to provide the most accurate picture of their circumstances and the impact of their disability on their daily lives," Mr. Bueltemann explained. "In addition, they need to make sure they provide detailed information about their healthcare providers, including primary care physician and specialists, and the continuing medical treatment they've received for their disability."
Additional steps include keeping copies of paperwork and medical records, and providing continuous medical updates to the state Disability Determinations Services office that is handling your application.
More information about handling a denial can be found online in the article, "Beware of Ten Mistakes After Social Security Denies Disability Benefits."
Keep in mind that applicants for Social Security disability can get help from a representative at any level of the process.
"Just as an accountant can help you file your taxes or a real estate agent can help you find the right home for your family, Allsup offers expert, professional assistance to our customers," Mr. Bueltemann said. "It's important to at least consider getting help from a Social Security claims representative who can get you through the process to the other side."
Allsup, Belleville, Ill., is a leading nationwide provider of financial and healthcare related services to people with disabilities. Founded in 1984, Allsup has helped more than 110,000 people receive their entitled Social Security Disability Insurance and Medicare benefits. Allsup employs more than 550 professionals who deliver services directly to consumers and their families, or through their employers and long-term disability insurance carriers.
For more information, visit http://www.Allsup.com.
800 854-1418, ext. 5065
800 854-1418, ext. 5760
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