Applications and Appeals Process
Initial Application: The first step is to apply for Social Security Disability benefits. This may be accomplished by calling Social Security's national 800 number (1-800-772-1213). Approximately 50 percent of all applications are turned down. If your claim is denied, the deadline for filing an appeal (Request for Reconsideration) is 60 days from receipt of the denial. Be sure to appeal on time. Do not simply start a new application, as this will result in lost benefits.
Reconsideration: Reconsideration is a review by a different person than the one who issued the initial determination. If the claim is denied at the reconsideration level, again the appeal period is 60 days. The appeal is known as a Request for Hearing.
Hearing: The third level is a Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. You will have the opportunity to appear in person and speak to the individual (the judge) who will be deciding your case. The hearings are held in Pennsauken, New Jersey, for claimants who live in Gloucester County, Camden County, Burlington County, Cumberland County, Salem County, Atlantic County, and Cape May County. Most favorable decisions are made at the hearing level. Therefore, this is the best chance for you to win your case.
Appeals Council: The Appeals Council reviews the hearing decision. It might agree with the hearing decision; it may reverse the judge's decision and grant the claim; or it may send the case back to the judge for further review.
Federal Court: If you disagree with the Appeals Council's decision, you may file a lawsuit in a federal district court.
If you live in the following South Jersey counties, please call for a free consultation: Gloucester County, Camden County, Burlington County, Cumberland County, Salem County, Ocean County, Atlantic County and Cape May County. Call (856) 513-6362.