Getting a denial letter from the Social Security Administration regarding your disability benefits application can be absolutely devastating.
But too often, people simply assume that's the end of it and give up.
In many cases, they did not have a lawyer on their side in the first place. It's not too late to rectify that mistake.
Los Angeles Social Security Disability Insurance Attorney Vincent Howard of HOWARD LAW recognizes that approximately 65 percent of all first-time disability applications are denied by the administration. That translates to more than 1.5 million denial letters every single year. What many people don't realize is that the first denial letter doesn't mean it's hopeless - even if you have waited more than a year for it. The denial is actually just the first step in a multi-step process, and a good number of those people eventually will end up getting benefits to which they are entitled.
But you can't give up. Having an experienced disability lawyer representing you often greatly improves your chances by helping you avoid some of the most common mistakes people make in the course of the process, and also helping you recognize what you will need to bolster your chances of success - be that more proof of the actual condition or more anecdotal proof of its effects on your ability to successfully complete every-day tasks necessary for you to work.
The very next step in the process following that first denial letter is an appeal. Understand first that this is not the same as re-applying for your benefits. In other words, you don't want to be sent to the back of the line and do it all over again. However, in order for an appeal to be considered, it has to be filed within two months of the denial letter, so you must act quickly. If you wait any longer than that, you will, unfortunately, have to start all over.
The good news is that if you do choose to appeal the denial, your chances of winning approval at the hearing level are better than they were during the initial application process. During an appeal, an administrative law judge will be assigned to evaluate your case. The Social Security Administration reports that approximately 60 percent of people whose cases are heard on appeal are granted benefits. Those chances can be boosted by as much as 15 to 30 percent when you are represented by an experienced SSDI lawyer.
Your appeal is going to involve the preparation of additional paperwork, as well as the potential to call witnesses to support your request. If part of the problem with your initial application was that you failed to provide enough information (and this can be easy to do if you aren't sure what is is the administration is looking for), you definitely don't want to make the same mistake twice.
You also need to understand that providing updates on your condition in the interim is key. Some people assume that they need to save up everything and wait until the day of the appeal to drop it all then. No - you need to be providing continues updates on any hospital or doctor visits, MRIs or CT scans. With a lawyer, you can assure that the information is getting to the appropriate examiner in a timely fashion.
The bottom line is that a denial letter isn't the end. However, failing to find someone to represent you afterward usually is.