Every day, people who try to navigate the Social Security Disability bureaucracy quickly discover it can be challenging. The claims process tends to be tedious and a single misstep can result in setbacks or outright denials. For people who need these critical disability resources to sustain a reasonable quality of life, attempting a DIY approach to navigating the Social Security Administration can be risky.
Filing claims, submitting necessary medical documents, and even arriving on time for scheduled appointments can prove difficult. If you have submitted a Social Security Disability claim, been denied, and are in the midst of an uncertain appeals process, it’s hard to know where you stand. When you finally receive paperwork that indicates your status is “Appeal Under Review,” it’s time to get legal help.
What You Need To Know About “Appeal Under Review”
It’s common for the majority of individually filed Social Security Disability claims to receive prompt denials. The first wave of review typically runs around 120 days, and the conventional wisdom leans toward the Administration rejecting most claims out-of-hand to reduce unnecessary payouts. The fact your legitimate claim has been denied is not necessarily cause for alarm. But a robust effort is usually required to gain favorable reconsideration in the next phase.
It’s imperative that filers promptly resubmit a claim because the next stage can run approximately 90 more days. If your first response came at about 120 days and you’re about to tack on another 90, that could total a 7-month waiting period. You could then also be forced to appeal to another rejection. We urge anyone who has received the first denial to secure legal support immediately. But if you have already received an Appeal Under Review letter, it’s crucial to take proactive measures.
What Does Appeal Under Review Mean For Your Claim?
Many people experience anxiety and worry they will not receive the benefits necessary to ensure a secure future. The “under review” status only seems to add to the sense that financial security is beyond your control. Keep in mind that claims under review can be turned around in your favor.
In some cases, appeals under review simply means that the Administration has assigned an examiner to verify the accuracy of specific information and documentation submitted. It’s an open secret that the federal government tends to move slowly and efficiently. So, don’t feel disheartened by the review status of your claim. Even if you are denied on a first appeal, there are steps a determined Social Security Disability attorney can take on your behalf.
How To Appeal Unfavorable Decisions
Although the Social Security Administration tends to be challenging to navigate and rigorous about documentation, there are several appeals layers that deserving people can utilize. The Administration typically hands-off cases to examiners who are not necessarily involved in initial reviews or unfavorable decisions. This allows those who appeal to enjoy a relatively clean slate about your case file. However, each appeal can come with a more stringent review, increased documentation, and compelling arguments are typically needed to overcome past denials. There are four levels of appeal an experienced attorney can explore on your behalf.
Appealing Unfavorable Disability Decisions: Reconsideration
If you recently received the initial under review letter, in all likelihood, your case is stuck in reconsideration. This entails a complete review of your application by Administration personnel who were not involved in the initial rejection. This fresh set of eyes checks the documentation submitted with the filing, and petitioners can include new evidence to support the claim.
One of the key things to keep in mind is that the Administration may deny claims because examiners believe you are no longer have a disability. If your application is based on a condition that could improve, resubmitting medical information that details you still are unable to sustain gainful employment may be critical.
Appealing Unfavorable Disability Decisions: Reconsideration Administrative Law Hearing
Should the Appeal Under Review status result in an unfavorable decision, the next phase will require a formal hearing. This process involves presenting your case before an administrative judge. This impartial judge will have had no part of any other previous review process and will notify you about the time and place of the hearing. Typically, these hearings are held within 75 miles of the filer’s residence.
The Administration now takes a more active role in arguing against overturning its examiner’s decision. It’s not unusual for the federal agency to request more information or clarity about evidence submitted on your behalf. Many times, it can be in the person’s best interest to provide as much concise evidence as possible in an effort to sway the judge to recognize the reasonableness of your claim.
During the hearing, the administrative law judge often asks pointed questions of you, witnesses, and any experts that your legal team calls. Video conferencing has also emerged as a sometimes preferred hearing method given filers have disabilities and the residual effects of the pandemic. Hearing methods vary from case to case.
Appealing Unfavorable Disability Decisions: Reconsideration Social Security Appeals Council
Favorable reversals are often gained at the administrative law hearing. But sometimes the judge may not fully grasp the compelling reasons why your situation requires Social Security Disability benefits for relief. When that happens, the Social Security Appeals Council can be petitioned to review how the case evolved, supporting evidence, and previous decision-making. When process errors, evidentiary uncertainty, or technical mistakes in law have negatively impacted your position, the Appeals Council may take up the case. To get the Appeals Council to take the matter under review, a powerfully persuasive case must be put together. Keep in mind, your attorneys are fighting to overcome past mistakes and get you the ruling you deserve. If the Council fails to render a favorable decision, you still have one last appeal.
Appealing Unfavorable Disability Decisions: Reconsideration Appeal To Federal Court
The last resort is to step outside the confines of the Social Security Administration’s appeals process and file a motion on your behalf in federal court. Judges at this level enjoy unique expertise about technical law deficiencies. In many instances, legal acumen tends to persuade federal judges based on missteps by the Administration and appeals examiners.
Obviously, the letter you received that indicated Appeal Under Review ranks among the early possible steps to gaining a favorable decision. While the letter certainly heightens worry that you may be denied vital benefits, you may receive a quick and favorable decision without having to fight the case all the way to federal court.
Other possibilities disabled persons may find helpful is the fact that your attorney can request the Administration keep any current benefits active during the appeals process. If your benefits have been reduced or suspended in error, formal requests for restoring payments can be promptly submitted on your behalf. The Administration commonly honors such as requests, and a savvy lawyer could get any back payments you missed.
Work with An Experienced Social Security Disability Appeal Attorney
If you are among the upwards of 70 percent if Social Security applicants who are routinely denied benefits, it’s essential to contact a law firm with experience resolving these specialized cases. The Social Security Administration typically limits appeals to a 60-day window from the day you receive a determination letter. The process of resolving Social Security Disability rejections and the rigorous technical process can be overwhelming for those outside the legal sector. That’s why it’s imperative to contact a law firm determined to fight to secure your rightful benefits.