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3 Things to Keep in Mind When Appealing Your Social Security Claim Denial

When you have filed for social security disability and learn you have been denied, you may think that you have no recourse. However, not only can you appeal the denial, you actually should appeal it. With only an average of around 28% of disability claims being approved on the first try, you aren't alone if you have to appeal their decision. Here are three things to keep in mind when appealing your social security claim denial.

1. An attorney isn't required, but is highly recommended.

A common misconception about appealing a disability claim denial is that you have to hire an attorney. The truth is that you don't have to. However, an attorney with a proven track record for winning disability cases can give you a better shot at getting your claim approved on your first appeal.

A social security disability attorney knows all of the tricks that the Social Security Administration (SSA) tries to use in order to get out of awarding you benefits. They also will know the questions they need to ask the expert the SSA uses to defend their denial. Without someone with the experience of arguing disability denial cases fighting on your behalf, your chances of winning your appeal can be significantly impacted.

2. Compliance with treatment is important.

If you were denied social security disability because you failed to comply with your doctor's prescribed treatment plan, your appeal can be an uphill battle. However, it doesn't have to keep you from winning your appeal. If you can get documentation and prove that the prescribed treatment plan would cause a financial hardship for you, then the SSA will accept that as a valid excuse for not following the treatment plan. 

Another acceptable reason for not complying with treatment is if the treatment violates your religious beliefs. In order to prove this, you will likely need an elder or officer of your particular church to testify on your behalf and provide documentation from a church publication. The documentation must prove the treatment is not in line with what your religion deems as acceptable medical treatment.

There are many other excuses that the SSA will accept as valid reasons for refusing to comply with treatment. The important thing to know is that they will never just take your word for it—you will have to provide documented proof of your excuse for it to be ruled valid.

3. Timing is everything.

You are only allowed a certain amount of time in which to appeal your disability claim denial. As of 2015, you have 60 days from the date you receive your denial letter in order to appeal the decision. That doesn't mean that you can't ever get disability benefits if you let the 60 days run out before appealing. However, you will have to start the process all over again and re-apply to the SSA.

The best thing to do is start the appeals process the day you get your denial letter, if possible. The sooner you begin the appeals process, the sooner you can get your social security benefits if your appeal is successful. For assistance, talk to a professional like Horn & Kelley, PC Attorneys at Law.