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APPEALING DISABILITY DECISIONS. If benefits are denied: Deadline is 60 days + mailing time Initial claim approvals are no more than 40%.

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appealing disability decisions

APPEALING DISABILITY DECISIONS

If benefits are denied:

Deadline is 60 days + mailing time

Initial claim approvals are no more than 40%

slide2

LEVELS OF APPEAL WHEN DISABILITY BENEFITS ARE DENIED-Reconsideration: Approximate Approval Rate of 12%-Hearing (Before an Administrative Law Judge): Approximate Approval Rate over 2/3

levels of appeal continued
LEVELS OF APPEAL (CONTINUED)

Request for Review of Unfavorable ALJ Decision (Goes to SSA Appeals Council in Falls Church, VA)

Appeals Council Can:

Overturn ALJ Decision (Once in 4.5 years)

Affirm ALJ Decision

Remand Case to Tucson Hearing Office “for further proceedings and a new decision”

expediting appeals
EXPEDITING APPEALS

This is at the discretion of the SSA office with jurisdiction and is generally only granted if the individual is:

Terminally ill or in “dire need,” most often characterized as facing “imminent loss of housing, food or medical care”

SSA will want documentation and to discuss the situation with you

appeals beyond the internal ssa process
APPEALS BEYOND THE INTERNAL SSA PROCESS

If you are unsuccessful through the Appeals Council, your only appeal option is to file in U.S. District Court.

You can also file a new claim. The two processes are not mutually exclusive. While you were appealing, you may have reached a new age milestone, such as age 55, which increases your chances.

There is the possible issue of “insured status” with the new claim.

appeals when disability benefits are stopped
APPEALS WHEN DISABILITY BENEFITS ARE STOPPED

I have no experience in cases when they are stopped because of “medical recovery.”

My experience is in cases where the beneficiary has worked and had earnings that called into question continued receipt of benefits after a 9 month Trial Work Period.

You can request “expedited reinstatement” continue to receive benefits while your disability status is re-evaluated.

You must request this VERY quickly—within 10 days of the date of the notice.

appeals when disability benefits are overpaid
APPEALS WHEN DISABILITY BENEFITS ARE OVERPAID

Reasons for overpayment:

Workers Compensation “offset”

Period of ineligibility due to earnings

Types of appeals:

Request for Reconsideration-You dispute the Fact or Amount of overpayment (subject to appeal deadline of 60 days).

Request for Waiver-You don’t dispute the fact or amount of the overpayment but believe you shouldn’t have to repay it because:

It wasn’t your fault AND having to repay it would be a financial

hardship (no appeal deadline)

If either appeal is denied, it can be taken further (e.g. to ALJ hearing)

representation
REPRESENTATION

By Southern Arizona Legal Aid (SALA) or

Arizona Center for Disability Law (ACDL)

By a private attorney who specializes in SSDI cases

They are paid only if they win the case

They are paid out of past due benefits (25% up to a maximum of $6000) based on a “fee agreement”

In the event the appeal goes beyond the ALJ and is successful, the attorney may request additional compensation through a “fee petition”

Attorney fee awards can be successfully appealed

role of a congressional office
ROLE OF A CONGRESSIONAL OFFICE

Cannot be a “representative” in the sense of attending a hearing before an ALJ, but can advocate on behalf of a constituent by:

Letting SSA know there is congressional interest in a case

Tracking the progress of an appeal

Notifying SSA a case might need to be expedited

Helping expedite payment when a claim/appeal is approved

Contacting a Payment Center that has begun regular monthly benefits but has not released past due benefits

Helping with a protest of an award of attorney fees

what a congressional office cannot do
WHAT A CONGRESSIONAL OFFICE CANNOT DO

We cannot pressure SSA to rule or decide in a certain way. SSA makes decisions based on the law and regulations, not based on political pressure.

There is no point in contacting more than one Congressional office, for the reason above and because a second office will only get the same answer from SSA as the first office.

You have two Senators and one House Member. You can contact either senator or the House Member in whose District you reside (Rep. Grijalva or Rep. Giffords)