The process of obtaining Social Security disability benefits can get very involved, and it's common for claims to be rejected. If you're worried about protecting your rights, you may want to consult with a Social Security disability attorney to learn more about how the process works and what your options might be should your claim be turned down.
Have You Filed?
If you have not already started a case, it's worth your time to contact a Social Security disability lawyer who offers free consultations to learn a bit about the system. Let them know you're not currently looking to pursue an appeal or a suit, and try to give them some sense of what your situation is.
It's also a good idea to check out the Benefit Eligibility Screening Tools on the SSA website. Bear in mind that this is not legally considered an application, and being screened out does not constitute a rejection. It will, however, give you a general idea of whether your case is likely to be accepted quickly.
Should the screening system rule you out, you are still allowed to apply. In fact, in order to pursue action with the help of a disability attorney, you will need to go through the full application process and be rejected. Only then can you initiate an appeal.
You Have Been Rejected -- Now What?
Your next course of action depends on the reason for the rejection. Income-based rejections, for example, tend to be difficult to appeal because the system has rules that cut people off from benefits completely once they have more than $1,500 of income in a month.
The majority of claims are rejected because the government does not believe the individual in question will be disabled for 12 or more months. This is the type of case Social Security lawyers can work with because the core claim, length of disability, can be proven during an appeal. Similar work can be done on behalf of those who were rejected because of failure to follow a regimen prescribed by a doctor.
Most estimates indicate that around 70% of initial claims will be rejected. A little more than half of appellants will receive some benefits, and a Social Security lawyer can be helpful in filing an appeal and going to hearings. You'll have 60 days from the date you receive your determination letter from the SSA to appeal the ruling.
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