Colorado SSD Appeals Lawyers
If you suffer from a total disability that has or will prevent you from working for at least 12 continuous months, you may be eligible to apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits in Colorado. Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies far more claims than it approves every year. If the SSA initially denies your application, you can appeal the decision. However, you will need to initiate your appeal as soon as possible.
The SSD appeals process can be lengthy and challenging for those that have never had to navigate it before. So, if you need to appeal the denial of your claim, you should contact an experienced disability benefits lawyer at The Sawaya Law Firm. We have protected the rights of the injured and disabled throughout Colorado since 1977. We can review your case in a free initial consultation and begin work on your appeal right away.
How Are SSD Benefit Claims Decided in Colorado?
In Colorado, Disability Determination Services (DDS) advises the SSA on disability decisions. When you apply for SSD benefits, you must first apply to the local Social Security office. That office will then send your application to DDS for a determination of whether you meet medical eligibility requirements to receive benefits.
DDS may collect your medical records and ask you to submit to a medical examination at its expense if it determines that it lacks sufficient information about your medical condition. DDS may also collect information about your job and work history, and it may contact you and any medical sources that you have listed within your application and ask questions about your medical condition and how it has affected your life and ability to work. DDS will then go through a five-step sequential evaluation process in order to determine whether your condition meets the SSA’s definition of a disability.
After DDS reviews your case, it will send your file, along with its recommendation, to the SSA. The SSA will make the final decision on whether to approve or deny your application. DDS does not make any final decisions on eligibility or the calculation of benefits.
What Is the First Step in the Appeals Process?
If the SSA denies your application, the first step in the appeals process will be to submit a Request for Reconsideration. In this phase, a claims examiner different from the one who initially reviewed your case will determine whether you are eligible for benefits. If so, the examiner will reverse the prior decision.
In Colorado, prior to January 1, 2019, applicants did not go through the Request for Reconsideration phase. Any applications filed after this date, however, are now subject to this stage. You must submit your Request for Reconsideration within 60 days of receiving notice that the SSA denied your initial application.
Unfortunately, most applicants are still denied benefits after they submit a Request for Reconsideration. To obtain benefits after being denied at this stage, applicants must request a hearing in front of an administrative law judge.
What Happens After the Reconsideration Stage?
A SSD benefits hearing will be held at one of the SSA’s Offices of Hearing Operations in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ). These hearings do not happen right away, though. If you have to attend a hearing, it will likely be scheduled to take place more than a after you filed your request for the hearing. This delay is due to the fact that the SSD system is incredibly backlogged and has many cases to hear.
During the hearing, the ALJ will ask you questions about your condition and the information contained within your application. It will be crucial for you to be honest with the judge and provide relevant details about your condition. You should never downplay your symptoms or exaggerate them. Additionally, vocational and medical experts will also be brought in to provide an opinion on your condition.
For many people, the hearing can be an intimidating process. After all, most people have never appeared before a judge. For that reason, it will benefit you to have an experienced attorney on your side who will know how to prepare you and your case for the hearing.
If the judge decides in your favor, you will start to receive SSD benefits. You may even be eligible to receive backpay that covers all or a portion of the time that you were waiting to hear a decision in your case. If you are denied, again, you can take additional steps. You can appeal to the SSA Appeals Council. If the Appeals Council finds no error, you can file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court.
How Can a Lawyer Help with Your SSD Appeal?
The SSA denies disability claims for many reasons. One of the most common reasons for a denial is a lack of sufficient medical evidence to support a claim. When you appeal the denial of a claim, your lawyer from The Sawaya Law Firm can make sure that the person reviewing your case has complete and updated information about your medical condition, and the lawyer can make a powerful case for why you deserve benefits in light of your condition.
Of course, it helps to work with a lawyer from the outset of your claim. If you can provide the SSA with an accurate and thorough application, with the assistance of an experienced SSD benefits lawyer, it can help you to avoid the need to go through the appeals process.
Contact Our Colorado SSD Appeals Lawyers Today
If the SSA initially denies your application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, don’t give up. You can keep fighting for the benefits that you need and deserve. At The Sawaya Law Firm, our Colorado Social Security Disability lawyers are here to assist you. We will help you to navigate the complex appeals process, advocate for you and regularly keep you updated on the status of your appeal. Contact us today so we can review your case in a free consultation.