Have you recently filled out an application for Social Security benefits, only to receive a denial notice in the mail? If so, you might be feeling understandably stressed. It's important to understand, however, that an estimated 67% of initial Social Security benefit applications are denied. Many of these go on to be approved with additional documentation and/or appeals. The key is knowing what to do next.
Find Out the Reason for Denial
Start by narrowing down the exact reason that your claim has been denied. By law, you are required to be notified of this in writing, so the reason for your denial should be outlined in the denial letter that you received from your Social Security office. There are many possible reasons as to why a Social Security claim could be denied, ranging from a lack of documentation to missing information on your claim form.
Consult With a Social Security Attorney
Once you've determined the reason or reasons for your claim denial, you may want to consult with an attorney. If your reason for denial was something simple (such as accidentally forgetting to fill out a field on your application), you can typically remedy this through your local Social Security office without guidance from an attorney. For anything more complex, however, having a Social Security attorney to represent you and provide you with guidance moving forward is a must.
Gather Documentation and Support for Your Claim
If additional documentation (such as medical records) or evidence to support your claim is needed, your attorney can point you in the right direction to gather everything you need. You may, for example, need to have a medical exam conducted to prove that you'll be unable to work for the foreseeable future. You may also need to gather proof that you followed through with physical therapy or other recommendations from your medical team.
File an Appeal With the Social Security Office
The last step of the process will be filing a formal appeal with your Social Security office. This will allow you to submit all your new evidence and documentation, as well as an updated application for benefits. This should be done within 60 days of your initial denial. In some cases, an appeal hearing may be required; if so, you will be required to appear in front of a judge. This is another situation where it helps to have an attorney representing you, as he or she can help you prepare for your hearing and boost your chances of success with your appeal.
If you are currently dealing with social security issues, contact a social security attorney near you to help make the process smoother.