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Social Security Disability Denial

When a person is disabled and unable to work, there are a variety of private, state, and federal programs that may offer financial assistance. The most well-known is Social Security Disability, a federal program that provides long-term benefits to those people who are unable to work permanently or for a period greater than one year.

Many people who submit a disability claims are surprised to have their claim denied — sometimes more than once. The best way to ensure that your claim is properly handled, especially after it has been denied, is to have a Social Security Disability attorney on your side.

The Social Security Disability lawyers of Gemma Law Associates, Inc. , are well equipped to help you with this process. Please feel free to contact one of our Providence, Rhode Island Social Security Disability attorneys by calling us or by filling out this form.

Qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits is complicated. You may have a mental or physical disability that prevents you from working. However, under the Social Security rules, you won’t be eligible for disability benefits just because your doctor says that you’re disabled. Instead, you must meet the strict definition of disability and show: you cannot do work that you did before; you cannot change jobs and do a new type of work; and your disability has lasted or is expected to last, for at least one year or result in your death.

After you apply for disability, your case is forwarded to a disability examiner at the state Disability Determination Service (DDS) who gathers your medical records and renders an approval or denial based on the Social Security Administration’s rules. Denials are common and you are allowed 60 days to appeal to the next level.

If you appeal, your case is sent back to DDS to be “reconsidered.” If you are denied a second time, you have 60 days to appeal to the next level, which is a formal hearing. At this level, your case is sent to the local Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (formerly the Office of Hearings and Appeals), where the case is assigned to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who will hear the case. If the ALJ’s decision is unfavorable, you have 60 days to appeal to the Appeals Council by filing a Request for Review.

The Appeals Council is an administrative appellate level that is made up of “administrative judges” who are not full ALJs. The Appeals Council may reverse the ALJ and issue a fully favorable decision, or may remand the case to the ALJ for further proceedings. In most cases, the Appeals Council issues a form letter denying the Request for Review and the ALJ’s decision becomes the final decision. If the Request for Review is denied, you have 60 days to seek judicial review in Federal Court if the case merits that level of review. In most cases, the court upholds the decision.

If you have questions about applying for Social Security Disability, or if you feel that your application has been unfairly denied, you should seek legal counsel. The Providence, Rhode Island law firm of Gemma Law Associates, Inc. , can help you. Serving clients throughout Rhode Island, we will meet with you to discuss your case. Please contact us by calling toll free or by filling out our online contact form.