Social Security Disability hearings and appeals
The third time is the charm? While the large majority of Social Security Disability applicants are denied at the first two stages, those who hang on long enough to get a hearing have a high rate of success.
Most applicants must get to the third or fourth stage of the claims and appeals process before they win benefits. This long and complex process can take several years. Greg Jones Law in Wilmington, North Carolina, has had success at every stage, and we are prepared to take good claims as far as it takes and as long as it takes.
The disability claim appeals process
The lawyers of Greg Jones Law can assist you from the beginning or step in at any part of the process to advocate for you:
- Initial application — As many as 75 percent of initial claims are denied by the Social Security Administration. You have 60 days to resubmit a denied claim for administrative review.
- Reconsideration — Your amended claim is reviewed by the SSA, with any new documentation. Less than 20 percent of Reconsideration cases are approved. You have 60 days to request a hearing.
- Administrative law judge (ALJ) hearing — More than half of the claimants who get a disability hearing are approved for benefits. However, the system is horribly backlogged. In North Carolina the wait time for a hearing varies from 12 to 24 months.
- Appeals Council — An adverse ruling at the ALJ level can be appealed to a panel of SSA judges, the highest authority within in the Social Security system. The Council can overrule the ALJ and award benefits, uphold the denial or send the case back for a rehearing.
- Federal court appeal — Errors of law in the SSA's administrative proceedings can be appealed to federal district court.
Preparing for your disability hearing
The ALJ hearing is the best chance of getting approved for Social Security Disability benefits. Our attorneys will do everything we can to improve your odds. We make sure that your medical records, employment history and all facets of your claim are accurate, complete and up to date. We will prepare you for the questions that the judge is likely to ask.
The hearing is your opportunity to explain in your own words why your disability prevents you from sustaining gainful employment. The only people present are you and your attorney, the judge, any witnesses testifying on your behalf, and often medical or vocational experts. Our role is to make sure you are prepped to assert your rights and argue points of law, and to cross-examine the SSA's experts.
After considering written documents and oral testimony, the judge will issue an up-or-down decision on your claim. Most people who are approved for ongoing disability benefits also receive an award retroactive benefits.
Social Security Disability lawyers
We handle your claims and appeals on a contingency fee basis. There are no upfront fees and we do not collect attorney fees or expenses unless you are approved for benefits.