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Persistence during appeal process matters after disability denial

People in Pennsylvania who are struggling with a disabling physical or mental condition might want to give up when they receive a denial of disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. A determination letter that denies a person benefits does not have to be the last word on the matter. An applicant has the right to appeal the decision and submit the paperwork within 65 days to the agency.

This first part of the appeal process initiates reconsideration of the application. A person can even send in more medical records to try and illustrate disability at this point, but reconsideration appeals still have a high rate of denial. Nationally, the average success rate for these appeals only amounts to 10 or 15 percent of cases. A reconsideration typically fails because it is being evaluated at the same regional disability determination services agency that issued the first denial. Although a different examiner will review the case, that person must still apply the same standards that the initial examiner did.

Despite the likelihood of a reconsideration appeal failing, people should still persist with the process. The second denial makes it possible for applicants to go to the next step, which is a hearing before an administrative law judge. These judges approve benefits for 60 percent or more of applicants who are supported by a representative. Judges have the discretion to apply their common sense and compassion, and they are not limited by the strict rules at the disability determination services agency.

The approval of SS disability for a person who can no longer work can mean the difference between comfort and serious financial hardship. A person can ask for legal representation at any point in the application process. An attorney could strive to prepare paperwork and gather records that clearly communicate the person's medical need.

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