An adverse decision from Social Security can, to put it mildly, be stressful. Whether a denial of an application for benefits or a decision that you no longer qualify for Social Security disability, it could mean financial hardship for you and your family. As experienced disability advocates who have successfully helped many people who were in similar situations, we understand your frustration, but you need to remain calm and focus on your right to appeal the decision.
Any decision regarding Social Security disability insurance or Supplemental Security Income can be appealed. The first step would be a request for reconsideration. This puts your case in the hands of someone at Social Security who was not part of the original decision-making process. You will receive a letter explaining the results of the reconsideration.
If not satisfied with the decision, you may ask for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. What follows are a few tips to make it possible for you to win a Social Security disability hearing.
Submit the request for a hearing right away
An unfavorable decision can be a huge disappointment, but you do not have time to dwell on it. The only way to win at a hearing is by immediately requesting one. You have only 60 days from receipt of the decision to file a written request for a hearing.
Do not assume that you have the full 60 days to file the appeal from when you receive the notice. Social Security presumes the clock starts running five days after the date it mailed the decision and notice of your right to appeal. It does not take into consideration delays caused by the United States Postal Service.
The best thing to do is file for a hearing as soon as you receive the adverse decision. While it is true that you may request an extension in the event you do not file on time, you must explain the reason for the delay and hope an extension is granted. The better practice is to submit your request for a hearing without delay.
Show up at the hearing
A hearing is your opportunity to present your case to the administrative law judge, so do not miss out on it by not participating. The pandemic has resulted in the Social Security Administration changing from in-person hearings to ones that are conducted over the phone, so there is really no excuse for not showing up for the hearing.
Whether conducted over the phone or in person, a hearing is your opportunity to persuade the administrative law judge of the validity of your claim. You must be respectful toward the ALJ and refrain from being rude or uncivil during the hearing.
Be honest about your disability
There are two sides to being honest about your disability at a Social Security disability hearing. The first is by not exaggerating the disability or the effect it has on your life. It is equally as important not to underplay or minimize either the extent of your medical condition or the degree to which it affects your life.
Your medical records provide evidence of the extent of your medical condition to support your claim about its severity and how it has caused you to be disabled. Your disability advocate may offer testimony from a vocational expert as further evidence in support of your claim to overturn the adverse decision.
Be prepared by knowing your claim and the medical records supporting it
You have sufficient time before a hearing takes place to become familiar with the claim and the medical records needed to prove that you are entitled to receive Social Security disability benefits. If you have been recently treated or evaluated by a doctor, you should submit the new medical evidence in advance of the hearing date to allow time for the ALJ to review it before the hearing.
A five-day rule applies to written evidence, including medical records, that you wish to submit in support of your appeal. Instead of submitting the evidence at the SSD hearing, you must submit it at least five days ahead of it to ensure that it is considered by the ALJ.
Prepare a hearing brief
A brief is a written document that a disability advocate prepares in support of your claim. It contains a summary of the medical evidence and arguments supporting a finding by the ALJ that you are disabled.
Consult with experienced disability advocates
Having a knowledgeable, experienced, and skilled disability advocate handling a Social Security disability hearing gives you someone you can rely upon to present a strong and persuasive argument in favor of your claim for benefits. At London Eligibility, we make certain that the administrative law judge is presented with all of the evidence and arguments favorable to your appeal.