How Many Times Can You Appeal a Social Security Disability Claim?

How Many Times Can You Appeal a Social Security Disability Claim?

Nothing is more frightening than getting a denial letter from the Social Security Administration when you are disabled and cannot work. Unfortunately, this happens to millions of people each day. If this has happened to you recently, don’t despair. You have the right to appeal this decision several times in front of an Appeals Council and an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

An appeal should be filed as soon as possible if you receive a denial from the SSA. Also, never just re-apply if you have been denied disability benefits. Re-filing does nothing to ensure you will be approved and it may complicate filing an appeal at a later date.

To avoid further delays with getting the benefits you deserve, call the Law Office of Joel Thrift today to schedule a consultation with an experienced disability attorney. Our legal team has successfully litigated first, second and third disability claims appeals for clients who are unable to work due to a disabling physical or psychological condition.

The First Appeal: Reconsideration

Upon receiving your first denial letter, you can file an appeal called a “reconsideration”. This begins a claim review by individuals not involved in the original review and ultimate denial. Reconsideration appeals must be filed within 60 days or the SSA will close your disability case. In most cases, a reconsideration appeal does not require you to be physically present. New evidence is allowed during the reconsideration process.

The Second Appeal: Administrative Law Judge Hearing

After a reconsideration denial, you can move on to the second appeal phase involving a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This appeal must also be filed within 60 days of a reconsideration denial. Before rendering a decision, an ALJ judge will evaluate medical evidence already submitted proving your disability and determine if the initial appeal reviewers made process errors regarding their denial determination. Having a disability attorney represent you in front of an ALJ can significantly increase your chance of the judge overturning a reconsideration decision.

The Third Appeal: Appeals Council

You can file an appeal with the SSA Appeals Council if an ALJ denies your claim. The Appeals Council will also evaluate all aspects of the ALJ’s decision for possible technical errors. They can further remand (return) your case to the same ALJ who denied your claim and order another hearing. In other words, an Appeals Council can overturn an ALJ’s decision, uphold an ALJ’s decision or remand your claim.

The Fourth and Final Appeal: Filing a Federal Lawsuit

When a disability claim is denied three times, you can take your claim to the federal level by filing it with a U.S. District Court in your city or state. You will need to be represented by a disability attorney at this point who will submit a written complaint to the appropriate district court. Once the SSA receives your attorney’s complaint, an SSA lawyer will file a response in district court. This response contains the reasons why the SSA has consistently denied to approve your claim.

Why Does the Social Security Administration Deny Disability Claims?

Lack of adequate medical documentation proving a disability, incomplete or wrongly filled out paperwork and inability to show you have followed through with prescribed treatments are leading reasons why disability claims are routinely denied. The disability attorneys at Joel Thrift Law genuinely care about our clients who cannot work through no fault of their own and will work tirelessly to get you approved for monthly benefits.

Call the Law Office of Joel Thrift today for immediate assistance with your disability claim denials.

How Much Will It Cost to Hire a Disability Attorney?

How Much Will It Cost to Hire a Disability Attorney?

Navigating the Social Security disability claims process can be a difficult task, especially when you are living with a chronic illness or other debilitating condition. It is common for claimants to get through the beginning stages of their claim, only to end up with a rejection letter. The entire process can weigh heavily on your mental health as well, making the need for legal guidance extremely important. However, if you’re already struggling to pay your bills due to the inability to work, how can you afford a lawyer?

How Much Does a Social Security Disability Attorney Cost?

Luckily, Social Security disability attorneys work differently than many other attorneys you may collaborate with during your lifetime. To help a much wider client base, disability lawyers don’t charge their clients any up-front fees or require that you put down a retainer fee. Instead, the majority of disability lawyers work on a contingency basis—where they will only be paid if they can help you win your benefits.

What is a Contingency Fee?

When you initially speak with a disability attorney or advocate, it’s common to sign a contingency fee agreement that gives the Social Security Administration (SSA) permission to allocate a portion of your awarded fees to your attorney to help cover the cost of their services. If your claim is approved, the SSA will go over the details of the agreement to make sure it follows all fee agreement guidelines and ensure that your legal counsel receives the payment they are entitled too. There is no additional work that you need to complete on your end, eliminating the need for bank transfers or writing a check.

For those who are unable to pay up-front fees to a lawyer or advocate, this is a great opportunity to get the help you need to follow the SSA’s strict guidelines. When a fee agreement is made on a contingency basis, you can rest easy knowing that your disability attorney will not be paid unless you win your claim.

How Much is the Social Security Disability Attorney’s Fee?

When you enter into a written agreement with a disability attorney, it states that if you win your claim, the fee amount they are entitled to is capped at 25% of your past-due benefits. While this may seem like a large sum, the maximum fee that your disability lawyer can be awarded is also limited to $6,000. Additionally, if your claim must be appealed at a federal level, your lawyer may be entitled to additional fees. However, most Social Security disability claims end at the Social Security hearing stage.

Another important factor to keep in mind when it comes to contingency fees is the fact that your attorney is only paid if you are awarded past-due benefits. If no past-due or “backpay” benefits are awarded in your claim, your attorney will not be paid a fee for their services. However, if this situation arises, your disability attorney can submit a fee petition to the SSA to request a higher fee.

Additional Costs

Throughout the course of the Social Security disability claims process, you may be required to present the SSA with lots of different paperwork to help support your claim. The SSA may request that you provide them with medical, work and school records and undergo new medical or psychological testing. These costs are typically paid outside of a contingency fee and are the responsibility of the client. As you consider hiring a disability lawyer, you must ask whether you may be charged any other additional fees out-of-pocket before agreeing to work together.

Should I Hire a Disability Attorney?

Because there is little to no risk of paying out-of-pocket for a disability attorney fees, it is often in the best interest of the claimant to hire a Social Security disability attorney. The Social Security disability claims process can be grueling, especially if your claim is denied right away. It can be difficult to pick yourself back up and file an appeal without proper legal guidance and an advocate by your side. However, when you hire a disability attorney who works with clients on a contingency basis, you can enjoy peace of mind in knowing that they will do everything in their power to ensure that you are awarded all of the benefits you’re entitled to.

Once you are awarded your benefits, the SSA will do all of the work necessary to determine your backpay amount and pay your attorney fees before awarding your first disability check. The maximum amount that will be subtracted from your benefits is just 25% of your backpay or a maximum of $6,000. There’s no negotiating over fees and you’ll never have to worry about doing the math either.

Contact Joel Thrift Law Today

There’s no reason that you need to fight for your disability benefits on your own. Are you interested in learning more about the many benefits of working with an attorney on your Social Security disability claim? At Joel Thrift Law, we have the knowledge and experience necessary to guide you through the Social Security disability claims process. Got a question? Give us a call today at (678) 296-7952 or contact us today for more information and be sure to schedule an initial consultation.