I Can’t Work But My Social Security Disability Claim Was Denied.  The Decision Makes No Sense.

We hear this all the time from our clients . . . “There’s no way I can work, but Social Security Disability denied by claim.”  They tell us that the decision just doesn’t make any sense to them.  This happens ALL. THE. TIME.

Unfortunately, Social Security Disability decisions are not based on what we might call “common sense.”  For disability decisions, the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a strict set of laws, rules, and regulations to decide whether you can work.  As a result of these rules, the SSA only wants to know if you are able to do any kind of work.  They don’t really care or even consider whether, in the real world, you can find suitable work.

Around two-thirds of all Social Security disability claims are denied.  This frequently happens in the early stages of a claim because the SSA decision-makers apply the rules rigidly.  They don’t give much, if any, consideration to what makes your case different from others.

The Social Security Administration is a large government agency.  Like most large government operations, the SSA doesn’t always “get it right.”  If you can’t work due to a physical or mental condition, your disability claim may have been denied in error.  Depending on the facts of your case, there is an almost endless list of reasons for possible error:

  1.  An incorrect finding that your condition is not severe;
  2.  A failure to consider all of your medical or mental conditions;
  3.  A failure to consider how all of your symptoms affect you;
  4.  Overestimating your ability to function in a work environment;
  5.  Overestimating your education level.

What Should I Do After My Social Security Disability Claim Is Denied?

There are four levels of appeal available for Social Security Disability claims.  Usually, claims proceed from one level to the next in this order:

Level 1:  Reconsideration

Usually, the first level of appeal after a Social Security Disability denial is a Request For Reconsideration.  For this appeal, your claims file will be reviewed by doctors and other disability specialists at your state’s Disability Determination Services agency.  This will be a different team of doctors that reviewed and denied your claim at the initial level.  BUT, even though there will be a different review team, the result will probably be the same:  denial.  Again, this may be because of the SSA’s strict rules on qualifying for disability or it may be due to mistake.

The important thing to remember at this stage is DON’T GET DISCOURAGED!  DON’T GIVE UP!  A lawyer who is experienced in Social Security Disability claims may still be able to help you win benefits.

Level 2:  Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearing

If your Request for Reconsideration is denied, the next step is a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge or ALJ.  The ALJ hearing is different because, at this level, your medical evidence, your testimony, and the testimony of any witnesses is all considered in making a disability determination.  At the hearing level, you can offer new evidence as well as evidence of any changes in your condition since you first filed your application.  When the hearing is over, the Administrative Law Judge will send out a written decision notifying you whether you’ve been approved for Disability.

Level 3:  Appeals Council Review

The Appeals Council of the Social Security Administration is made up of a different set of judges who are new to your case.  The Appeals Council decides whether or not it will review the decision from the Administrative Law Judge.  If the Appeals Council decides to review your claim, it will not consider any new evidence.  The Appeals Council will only review the Administrative Law Judge’s decision to make sure all of the laws and procedures will correctly applied and followed.  After reviewing a claim, the Appeals Council can affirm the hearing judge’s decision, modify it, reverse it, or remand it (send it back to the ALJ) for a new hearing.  If the Appeals Council decides not to review your case, then the ALJ’s decision becomes the final decision in your case.

Level 4:  Federal Court Review

If you lose on appeal to the Appeals Council, you have can appeal to the United States district court in your jurisdiction.  You will file a lawsuit with the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration as the defendant.  If you happen to lose at the U.S. District Court level, you can appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals and then to the U.S. Supreme Court.  However, the U.S. Supreme Court rarely grants review of Social Security Disability cases.

Is It Really Worth The Effort To Appeal?

YES!  DON’T GIVE UP!  Don’t give up on your claim, at least not until you have a hearing at the administrative law judge level.

What Makes Ritchie Law Firm Different?

Many Virginia lawyers say they practice Social Security Disability law.  But, most of those lawyers have not had years of experience winning Social Security Disability cases.  That’s what makes us different.  At the Ritchie Law Firm, we have a team of lawyers who have the experience of handling Social Security Disability cases and WINNING.  Sure, we also handle personal injury cases.  But, Social Security Disability cases are a different beast.  And, we know how to handle them.

If you have been denied Social Security Disability benefits, our disability team will review your denial letter for FREE.  Then, with no obligation and NO STRINGS ATTACHED, we’ll tell you our game plan for winning your case.

If you want your disability case handled by a team of lawyers trained to handle this difficult area of the law that few lawyers know the first thing about, your search is over.  Whatever stage of applying for benefits you are in, whether you haven’t yet applied or you’ve been denied, we are happy to help.  Click here to give us some details about your case.

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