Supplemental Security Income claims are heavily scrutinized by the federal government. Those who are deemed not to meet the federal requirements for these benefits are denied benefits, which can really throw them into financial disarray, especially since these individuals lack the ability to work. However, those who have had their initial claim denied should not give up, as the Social Security Administration provides an appeals process that can be utilized to the fullest extent in hopes of recovering the benefits one deserves.
The first step in the appeal process is reconsideration. Here, an individual, one who did not initially review the claim, will look at the evidence presented together with any new evidence and make a determination. During reconsideration, a claimant may have the option to be present to say why they believe they qualify for benefits, and witnesses may testify at the reconsideration.
If an individual still disagrees with the determination after reconsideration, then they can request a formal hearing. This hearing will be heard by an administrative law judge. Witnesses will testify, and the judge may require medical professionals to appear. If no favorable outcome is reached here, then a claimant can proceed to the Appeals Council review. The Appeals Council will decide whether to review a case, and, if it chooses to do so, it may either grant benefits or return the matter to an administrative law judge for further hearings. If the Appeals Council refuses to hear a claim or if it denies a claim, then the claimant's last option is to appeal to the federal court system.
Appealing a denied claim can be a long and drawn out process. However, if pursued correctly, the appeals process may allow an individual to recover the SSI benefits they desperately need. A legal professional is able to represent a claimant throughout this process, which many have found to be beneficial in their attempt to put forth convincing evidence of their qualifying conditions.
Source: Social Security Administration, "Your Right to Question a Decision Made on Your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Claim," accessed on Jun. 4, 2017