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Changes to the Social Security Disability Appeals Process in Pennsylvania

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The process for filing appeals following an initial denial of Social Security Disability benefits in Pennsylvania has changed. Any application initially denied on or after April 20, 2019 is now required to undergo an additional step in the appeals process called the Reconsideration stage.

The process of applying for Social Security Disability benefits begins with an application through the Social Security Administration. The application is then forwarded to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Disability Determination (BDD) for initial review. That application will either be accepted or denied. If accepted, benefits are paid. However, if the application for benefits is denied the individual will then have sixty (60) days from the date of receipt of the denial to file an appeal if they disagree with that denial and wish for further review.

For approximately the last decade, Pennsylvania had been part of a test program within the Social Security system. Pennsylvanians that applied for Social Security Disability benefits and were denied were only required to file one appeal following that denial. That appeal was called the Request for Hearing. After the initial denial, the individual could file appeal paperwork that would put them directly in line for a hearing with one of Social Security’s Administrative Law Judges.

Now, Pennsylvanians with initial application denials dated on or after April 20, 2019 are required to go through an additional appeal process called Reconsideration. Within sixty (60) days of receipt of the Notice of Disapproved Claim (denial), the individual must file a Request for Reconsideration with Social Security. Social Security will then perform an internal review of its own denial of benefits. Not surprisingly, this rarely results in an award of benefits and a notice is sent indicating that the internal review confirmed the prior denial. Once the second denial of benefits is received, only then can the individual request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. That Request for Hearing likewise must be filed within sixty (60) days of the receipt of the second denial of benefits. The current wait time for an appeal hearing with a judge is about eighteen (18) months. However, it is expected that the new Reconsideration stage will take an additional 3-4 months to complete. Therefore, it is likely that it will take about two years from the filing of the first appeal before an appeal hearing will be held.

Based on recent statistics from the Social Security Administration, only 20-25% of individuals are awarded Social Security Disability Insurance benefits upon initial application. For those that appeal an initial denial, about 2% of them will be awarded benefits during the Reconsideration stage. Of those that are denied during Reconsideration and choose to appeal, about 9% will be awarded benefits by a judge at the hearing stage. Therefore, even if you are initially denied, it is important to appeal your case for a greater chance of obtaining relief.
Our skilled and knowledgeable attorneys at Rudberg Law Offices, LLC can help guide and ease the process of obtaining Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. For more information regarding these recent updates to the appeals process contact our office at 1.866.306.2667 or [email protected]