January 17, 2011

I Have Been Denied My Indiana Social Security Disability Benefits, Should I Reapply?

Indiana disability lawyers like Scott D. Lewis often get asked this question.  While the Social Security Administration (SSA) does require an individual to reapply for disability benefits in certain circumstances, it may not always be in the best interest of an Indiana disability claimant to reapply for their disability claim.  The below information may help you in determining what steps you should take next.

Have you been denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and don’t know what to do next?  Indiana Social Security Disability Attorney Scott D. Lewis strives to help individuals answer that question.  During one of Mr. Lewis’s free consultations, he will typically ask the disability claimant if they have already applied for disability benefits and if they have been denied.  It’s important for him to know where the claimant is in the application process.  If the claimant has been denied at the initial application level, Attorney Lewis’ advice will depend on how long ago the claimant received their denial.  The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers the claimant an opportunity to appeal the denial within 60 days of receiving their denial letter and also allows for mailing time.  If the claimant’s 60 day period has expired, Mr. Lewis will attempt to explain to the claimant that he/she has missed their opportunity to appeal that decision and must start over by filing another initial application.  This may be the only time Mr. Lewis advises the claimant to reapply.  Be aware that there are also provisions for untimely filings if the SSA accepts your reason for being late.  Generally, if the claimant has been denied at the initial application level and is within that 60 day period, disability attorney Scott Lewis will inform the claimant to appeal the disability denial rather than starting a new disability claim.  Indianapolis disability lawyer Scott Lewis also finds it very important to find out the reason you were initially denied.  Some denial reasons such as “too many resources” or “not meeting the insurance requirements” may not be an appeal that can be easily won or won at all.  After you have been denied, you may want to hire a Social Security disability lawyer to represent you during the appeals process.  Having representation may be helpful in meeting deadlines, obtaining medical records, obtaining statements from your physicians and keeping the appeals process on task.

Is it better for me to appeal my denial rather than reapply for disability benefits?  There are many benefits to appealing your denial rather than reapplying and starting the process over.   Statistically, it is not to the claimant’s advantage to continually file a new initial disability claim after their disability claim has been denied.   Because all initial claims and reconsideration appeals are sent to the same state disability agency for medical determinations, these state agencies are bound by the same rules and regulations each time you apply, and the state disability examiner cannot be as flexible as an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in making their medical determination. Therefore, if you keep reapplying, you are likely to get denied over and over. In disability lawyer Scott Lewis’ experience, filing an appeal versus reapplying can be more productive.  In his opinion, if your initial claim has been denied, your best chance of winning SSDI or SSI benefits can be at a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

Although, other than not meeting the appeal deadlines set by the SSA, the only other situation that typically warrants a new application is being denied at the hearing level.  However, all Indiana Social Security disability claims have different fact scenarios and disability attorney Scott Lewis recommends you seek legal advice as to how best handle your Social Security disability claim.  Claimants are entitled to appeal a disability hearing denial, and you can do this by requesting a review of the ALJ’s decision by the Appeals Council.  Statistically, the Appeals Council does not overturn many ALJ decisions. Generally speaking, the Appeals Council will either refuse to review the request for appeal or send it back to the ALJ for another decision.  In Mr. Lewis’ opinion, if you wait for the Appeals Council to make their decision without filing a new disability claim, this can be a disadvantage for the claimant because Appeal Council decisions themselves can take a fairly long time to receive (several months or more than a year).  In some cases, the claimant may find it beneficial to appeal the denial AND file a new claim at the same time.

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