Why an SSD Denial is Not the End of the Road
SSD benefits can help to cover expenses related to your injury, lost wages, and costs of living while you're unable to work. Unfortunately, applications for SSD benefits aren't always approved—especially the first time around.
If you've recently received a denial letter for your SSD benefits, you may be feeling understandably discouraged. However, it's important to continue fighting for the benefits you may deserve—so don't give up just yet.
Claim Denials Are Common
First of all, understand that it is extremely common for SSD benefit applications to be denied the first time around. Often times, denials are due to simple problems such as an incorrect form or missing documentation; these issues can be easily resolved. In fact, it is estimated that about 65% of all SSD benefit claims are initially denied, so you're definitely not alone if you've recently received a denial letter.
What to Do if Your Claim is Denied
So, what should your next steps be if your claim has been denied? Start by reviewing the denial letter you received in the mail; by law, it is required that this letter outlines the specific reason for your denial. This will help you get a better understanding of what is preventing your claim from being processed and approved, along with potential next steps to remedy the issue.
Once you're sure of the reason for the denial, consider whether or not the remedy is an easy one. For example, were you simply missing some paperwork or documentation from your doctor when you initially submitted the application? If so, then you may be able to contact the SSD benefits office and re-submit the missing documentation.
Understanding the Appeals Process
In other more complex cases, however, you may be required to file a formal appeal instead. This is a more complicated process that will involve filling out more paperwork and potentially even appearing in court. With the appeals process, you generally have 60 days from the date you received your initial denial letter to file a formal appeal.
When filing an appeal for SSD benefits, there are four levels:
- reconsideration of evidence
- formal hearing by a judge
- review by the Appeals Council
- Federal court review.
Typically, the appropriate level of appeal should be outlined in your denial letter, so you know where to begin the process.
Why Work with an Attorney?
The appeals process can be quite complicated, so having an experienced legal professional on your side is always a good idea. Specifically, consulting with a professional SSD attorney can ensure that you receive the guidance and representation you need throughout the appeals process. He or she will be able to review the details of your claim, as well as your approval letter, to recommend the next best steps.
An attorney can also assist you in collecting additional documentation or submitting more paperwork as needed for your appeal. And if your appeal makes it to the level that you need to appear in front of a judge, your attorney can also represent you during this stressful time. Ultimately, working with an attorney who specializes in SSD benefits and appeals is the best way to collect the benefits you may truly deserve so you can move on with your life.
Receiving a denial letter for SSD benefits can be unsettling, but it's important to understand that this isn't the end of the road. There are plenty of steps you can take to pursue the benefits you may be entitled to, so be sure to follow the necessary steps and retain the services of an experienced SSD attorney.
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