How to Win a Disability Appeal

Written by contributing writer
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Applying for Social Security disability does not mean that you are guaranteed to get it upon your initial attempt. Many people are turned down the first time they apply for these benefits. For that reason, it is necessary to file an appeal in order to fight for disability payments. If this has happened to you, it can be quite frustrating. Knowing what to do to increase your chances of winning a disability appeal is pivotal to its success.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Your own written statement
  • Written statements from witnesses
  • Receipts and copies of application and appeals
  • Social Security National Appeals Council review
  • Attorney

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  1. 1

    Request an appeal in a timely manner. While your case is still relatively fresh, it is wise to keep things moving expeditiously by filing an appeal as soon as your application has been rejected. You should file an appeal within 60 days of receiving a denial or you will risk being required to file your disability application from scratch.

  2. 2

    Work on writing an effective statement to read at your appeal hearing. It should encompass a description of how debilitating your disability is, the extreme pain you suffered, its adverse impact on your life and how it has made it impossible for you to maintain a job, due to your physical impairment. Include written statements from family members and past employers that back up what you have described. If you want to sway the judge in your favour, this can be persuasive.

  3. 3

    Make certain that you continue to see your medical doctor. Have the doctor submit updated information that proves the seriousness of your medical condition. Your doctor should also send a written statement that confirms that your condition has deteriorated since you first applied for disability and that there is little or no chance that your condition will improve. Keep a record of any tests, lab work, X-rays, diagnosis, treatments and medications you have been given, in regards to the medical condition for which you are seeking disability. A well-stated, descriptive report from your doctor can be very effective.

  4. 4

    Make certain that you keep all receipts of your original application for disability and any previous disability appeal that you filed, as well as copies of your application and appeals. Having a record is important, in order to prove that you applied for disability. This also protects you, in case the Social Security Administration loses or misplaces your records.

  5. 5

    File an appeal to the Social Security Appeals Council. This is an option if you have been turned down for disability after the initial application, reconsideration and hearing stages. You can request that the Social Security National Appeals Council review the decision made during your hearing. To send a written request for a review, write to: Appeals Council, SSA/ODAR, 5107 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3255, or call for more information at (800) 772-1213. You have to request your review within 60 days of receiving your hearing decision or you risk being denied the opportunity for requesting any review in the future, unless you have an acceptable excuse.

  6. 6

    Consider getting an attorney to represent you. It might be smarter for you to get a lawyer who specialises in disability appeals instead of trying to do things on your own. An attorney will better understand what needs to be done to persuade a judge to grant your disability claim. Realise, however, that you will have to pay the attorney at least 25 per cent of any back payment you receive, which could be a sizeable amount of money.

Tips and warnings

  • Make sure to show up for your appeals hearing, to avoid having to reapply for disability.
  • Make sure to bring all pertinent paperwork, statements and information that will help prove your disability

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