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The process for appealing after being denied Social Security

When seeking Social Security disability benefits in Michigan, a common issue that arises for claimants is what they should do if their claim is denied or there is an unfavorable decision. Understanding what information is necessary prior to requesting a hearing and what happens at the hearing is imperative to the process. It is within the rights of any claimant to appeal a decision made by the Social Security Administration, which could be a denial of benefits or that the claimant no longer meets the criteria to receive benefits.

To appeal, the first step is a reconsideration determination. The decision made in reconsideration will be made by someone who didn't have any say in the initial decision. A letter will be sent to the claimant after the decision is made under reconsideration. It is possible that the claimant will disagree with this decision as well. There is still a right to have another hearing. This hearing will be before an Administrative Law Judge. It's possible, though, that the ALJ's decision will also be negative to the claimant. If that is the case, then a request can be made for the Appeals Council to review the case.

Prior to the hearing, it's possible for the claimant and a representative to examine the evidence in the case and even submit more evidence to support their claim. The evidence must be provided in a timely fashion so the ALJ can examine it. When attending the hearing, the ALJ will go over the circumstances of the case. It's possible that the claimant will be asked questions as will witnesses brought to the hearing. The questions are answered under oath and the hearing will be recorded.

Following the hearing, the ALJ will provide a decision based on the evidence. The claimant and his or her representative will receive a copy of the decision or order to dismiss the case. With federal regulations such as they are, and considering the requirements for Social Security disability, it is not impossible to have a previous decision overturned. People who have legitimate issues and prove that the first decision was wrongly made will find that it is possible that the ALJ or Appeals Council will change it. A key to fulfilling the requirements to receive benefits is often having experienced legal help before moving forward with a filing or an appeal.

Source: Social Security Administration, "What You Need to Know to Request a Hearing Before an Administrative Law Judge," accessed on Mar. 30, 2015

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