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What You Should Know About Appealing an SSD Ruling

If the Social Security Administration denies your application for Social Security disability insurance benefits (SSD), you have 60 days to appeal the ruling. However, you shouldn’t expect much guidance from the SSA about how to rework your application to make it acceptable. In most cases, it will be up to you to intuit why your claim was rejected and cure whatever deficiencies your initial application had.

Pennsylvania has done away with one step in the appeals process, the “request for reconsideration.” This step, where a new evaluator would read the same file that a colleague had just rejected, proved to be wasteful. So, many states, including Pennsylvania, have done away with this step and now allow applicants to move immediately to a disability hearing.

The appeals process now involves three stages:

  • Administrative law judge hearing — You have the opportunity to clarify your application and submit additional medical records. Importantly, since this is a live procedure, you can call witnesses, such as your treating physician and medical experts, to give testimony about your condition. SSA can cross-examine your witnesses and present its own experts, whom you have the right to question as well.
  • Appeals Council review — If the administrative law judge does not reverse your denial, you can ask for a review. The Appeals Council is not required to grant a review, but if this board hears your case, it has the power to order a new administrative law hearing or approve or deny your claim.
  • Federal court review —When you exhaust your appeals within the Social Security Administration, you have the right to file an action in the federal court of your district.

The important thing to keep in mind is that you are engaged in a highly technical legal process. If you think you can simply go before a judge or review panel and tell your story, you are probably in for a bitter disappointment. Knowledge of the law, legal procedure, legal precedent, and rules of evidence all come into play. If you are not professionally equipped to handle the process, you should consult someone who is.

Rudberg Law Offices, LLC represents SSD applicants in Pittsburgh and throughout western Pennsylvania. If your claim of disability has been denied, schedule a free consultation by calling 412-488-6000 or contacting our Pittsburgh office online.

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