The appeals process for SSI claims

Supplemental Security Income provides financial support for those who are low-income and suffer from certain types of disabilities. However, just like the Social Security disability system, those who seek out these benefits must have their claims subjected to review before approval. In order to qualify for these benefits, claimants must meet certain federal requirements. Those who don't meet them will have their claim denied.

Yet, just because your claim is denied does not mean that you don't deserve SSI benefits. In fact, many times the reason for denial falls into an area ripe for argument. If you receive what you believe to be an unjustified claim denial, then you have the right to appeal that decision.

There are multiple levels of appeal. First is reconsideration, where your claim is given another assessment by an individual who was not involved in the initial adjudication. All of the evidence that was initially submitted will be looked over again, and you typically are not given an opportunity to speak on your claim. The second form of appeal is a hearing by an administrative law judge. These hearings, which occur only after reconsideration, allow a claimant to provide additional evidence to clarify matters in question. You are allowed to be present at these hearings, and an administrative law judge will likely ask you questions about your claim.

The third form of appeal is taking the matter to the Appeals Council. Here, only certain cases are chosen for review, and the Council can either issue its own decision on a claim or send it back to the administrative law judge for further consideration. Those who either have their claim denied for review by the Appeals Council or are given an unfavorable decision by it can take the matter to federal court.

The appeals process can be quite contentious and lengthy. Yet, for many Californians, pursuing an appeal is the only means available to them to recover the compensation they so desperately need. If your SSI claim has been denied, then you may want to discuss the matter with an experienced attorney to learn how best to appeal the decision.

Source: Social Security Administration, "The Appeals Process," accessed on April 24, 2017

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