When you become disabled, financial questions often arise regarding how you will be able to support yourself and your family. You may not be able to return to work, and therefore you may need to look elsewhere for financial assistance. Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits are designed to help in these circumstances. Unfortunately, valid claims are frequently denied at the initial stage. An appeal may be necessary to seek the benefits that you deserve. I am John Stanko, an SSD attorney who can guide San Francisco Bay Area claimants through this process. I will invest the time and effort needed to make sure you understand the status of your case as well as your rights and options.Steps in the SSD Appeals Process
Individuals may be eligible for government benefits if they are unable to work an entire eight-hour workweek for 12 continuous months. A doctor must identify and confirm a disability in order for an individual to file an application. The two most common types of SSD benefits available include Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which are both programs administered and overseen by the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSDI is available to individuals who have worked long enough to earn “work credits” and have developed their condition during the time they still paid insurance coverage. SSI, on the other hand, is available to people who may not have work credits but whose incomes and assets fall below certain poverty specifications.
Regardless of whether you apply for SSDI or SSI benefits, an application is often initially denied, whether for a lack of proper evidence regarding the disability or other issues with the process or documentation. When an application for SSD benefits has been denied, a claimant can take the following steps to appeal the decision:
- Reconsideration: The first stage of the appeals process is an informal reconsideration of your initial application. This may involve some additional evidence at the request of the SSA, which reviews your claim.
- Hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ): If a reconsideration of your application is unsuccessful, you may request a hearing before an ALJ. This formal hearing results in an independent ruling based on the information contained in your application, as well as additional evidence and testimony presented.
- Appeal of ALJ’s decision: If your claim was denied by the ALJ, your next step would be appealing the decision before the Social Security Appeals Council.
- Appeal in Federal District Court: Filing a complaint in U.S. District Court is an option if the other appeals prove unsuccessful.
Many of these steps require additional evidence as well as expert testimony, especially when reaching the formal hearing stage. Making sure you have all the correct information and are able to fully explain your disability is often vital to the strength of your application.Consult a Marin County Attorney When Seeking Government Benefits
If your SSD application is rejected, it can be crucial to talk to a knowledgeable attorney about how to present a persuasive appeal. Based in Marin County, John Stanko can assist individuals with qualifying disabilities or impairments. My main objective as an SSD benefits lawyer is to make sure that your rights are asserted in a compelling manner. I assist individuals in San Rafael, Sausalito, and Oakland, as well as throughout Sonoma and Napa Counties, with all stages of the Social Security appeals process. You can reach the Law Office of John Stanko at 415-755-8899, or toll-free at 877-204-8900. You also can contact us online to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your options.