Omaha Disability Benefits Claim: Four Levels of Appeal for SSI and SSDI

It’s not at all uncommon to have your initial application for SSDI benefits denied. In fact, only about 38% of applicants are awarded benefits on their first attempt.

What about the other 62%?  About half of them will enter into the appeals process. Appealing a denied claim can be incredibly intimidating, so much so that if you aren’t already working with an Omaha disability attorney, you may want to seek out a case evaluation prior to even taking the first step in the appeal process.

Level One: Request for Reconsideration of Initial Determination

Included with your denial notification will be a review of your medical condition as well as an explanation of your right to appeal. You will have 60 days from the date printed on the denial notification to file for a reconsideration appeal.

The reconsideration involves a total re-evaluation of your claim by Disability Determination Services (DDS) by a new disability examiner and consulting physician. The reconsideration should not be handled by anyone at DDS who previously worked on your claim.

Contact the Social Security field office where you filed to request reconsideration. Roughly 15% of all reconsidered claims are accepted.

Level Two: Administrative Law Judge Hearing

If the claim reconsideration is denied, you will have 60 days from the date on the notification to request a hearing before an administrative law judge, or ALJ. You must be present at the hearing and answer questions about your claim.

Roughly 67% of claims at this level are approved.

Level Three: Appeals Council

The Appeals Council reviews denials by request and  randomly selects less than 10 % of the favorable decisions for review. It is very difficult to win this type of appeal, and unless the council finds that Omaha disability judge made a fundamental error in a previous appeal, it is very likely your appeal will be dismissed. Your chance of winning at this level is, at most, 3%, however about 20 % are remanded for further hearing and the only reason most claimants go before the council is to have tried every other option before going to the next level.

Level Four: Federal Court Review

At this level of appeal, the claimant files a lawsuit against the Social Security Administration in U.S. district court. The federal judge assigned to your case will review your case for legal errors and consult with your treating doctors.

Federal judges will reverse the decisions of ALJs or the Appeals Council in at least 33% of all cases. However, because of the time and expense involved in suing the SSA, very few claimants appeal to this level.

Ready to learn more about what Cuddigan Law can do for your Social Security disability benefits claim? For a free evaluation, call 402-933-5405 or email [email protected]. Be sure to request our free booklet, Give Yourself the Best Chance of Winning Your Social Security Disability Case.

Timothy J. Cuddigan
Omaha Social Security and Veterans Disability Lawyer With Over 40 Years Experience