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Social Security Administration's proposed rule for appeals

Many Michigan applications for Social Security Disability benefits are initially denied. After they receive notices of denial, the applicants are then allowed to appeal the decisions and to have their appeals heard by administrative law judges. A proposed rule by the Social Security Administration threatens to change the appeals process, leading ALJs to argue that the rule runs counter to the law.

The Social Security Administration has published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to allow appeals officers within the agency to hear appeals of lower-level disability claims. This would mean that instead of having independent reviews by administrative law judges, the appellants would instead have their claims decided internally. The comment period for the proposed rule will be open until Feb. 18.

A union that represents administrative law judges posted several comments on the proposed rule. The ALJs argue that it violates the legislative intent behind the appeals process. When legislators wrote the laws that govern the Social Security claims and appeals processes, they specifically called for applicants to have the opportunity for independent reviews of denials. However, the proposed rule would take the appeals away from the ALJs and bring them under the umbrella of the agency, meaning that the reviews would not be independent.

People who suffer disabling injuries or illnesses that prevent them from working might be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. An experienced SSD lawyer may help a client to gather the types of evidence that could potentially make the claim likelier to succeed. If the initial application is denied, the attorney might help the client to submit the appeal on time. The attorney could also assist the client in gathering additional evidence to strengthen the claim on appeal and appear at the hearing.

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