If you applied for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits and were denied, you’re in the majority. An estimated 70% of all claims are denied the first time around. The good news is that you are able to appeal the Social Security Administration’s decision and make a better, stronger case for why you should be granted benefits.
Why SSD Claims Are Denied
The reason for denial will vary from one claim to the next, but there are some common denominators. Below is a list of the more frequently-cited reasons for rejecting a claim, and how they have a negative impact on your chances of being approved.
- Insufficient medical evidence: The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not believe that the medical evidence proves your inability to work. This can happen if your medical documentation is incomplete or does not properly the ways that your disability has prevented you from maintaining gainful employment.
- Failure to follow doctor’s orders. When you don’t comply with your doctor’s treatment plan, the SSA may conclude that you are unwilling to help yourself by improving your condition.
- Income that exceeds that substantial gainful activity allowance. There is an income limit for SSD applicants, as the whole point of disability benefits is to help people who cannot work enough to support themselves. If you are working and taking home more than $1,000 per month at the time you apply, your claim will be denied.
- Failing to cooperate with the SSA. If you fail to provide the person handling your case with any requested documentation or do not show up for scheduled medical examinations, the SSA will likely reject your claim.
When it comes to disability applications, the approval rate in Alabama is 49%, which is above the national average. In general, approximately one-third of claims are approved the first time around, while 70% are rejected and have to be appealed if the claimant is to receive benefits.
Next Step: Your ODAR Office
The Office of Disability Adjudication & Review (ODAR) is a branch of the SSA that schedules hearings for SSD applicants appealing a benefits claim denial. It has 10 regional offices throughout the United States and 169 hearing offices.
When you intend to appeal a claim denial, you will have to contact your closest ODAR office. In Alabama, there are four locations:
- Birmingham: 200 Rev. Abraham Woods, Jr. Blvd., 1st Floor Birmingham, Alabama 35285. Phone: 1-866-613-2863
- Florence: Walnut Street Executive Center, 204 South Walnut Street, Suite D Florence, Alabama 3563. Phone: 1-866-964-9978
- Mobile: 550 Government St., Suite 200, Mobile, Alabama 36602. Phone: 1-866-563-4698
- Montgomery: 4344 Carmichael Road, Suite 200, Montgomery, Alabama 36106. Phone: 1-866-931-9032
You may request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) by visiting your closest office, sending them a letter, or filing your appeal online. Request processing times will vary depending on each location’s caseload. In Birmingham, the average wait time for a hearing is 20.5 months and case processing time averages at 624 days. In Mobile, you can expect to wait 16 months for a hearing and 583 days for your case to be processed.
Once your hearing date is set, your ODAR office will send you a letter advising you of the date, time, and location.
Working with an SSD Disability Attorney
Appealing a denied claim can be complicated, and your chances of success are much higher with the help of an experienced Social Security disability attorney. In addition to helping you gather information and documentation important to your claim’s success, your attorney will:
- File the request for reconsideration
- Answer any questions posed by the claims examiner
- Prepare you for questions the ALJ will ask you at the hearing
- Help you prove that your condition meets a disability listing or qualifies you for a medical vocational allowance
If you have mobility challenges or live in a remote area, you can authorize your attorney to approach your local SSA offices on your behalf and present your case for benefits. Below is a list of three SSA offices in major cities within Alabama.
- Huntsville: 4970 Research Drive, NW, Huntsville, Alabama 35805
- Birmingham: 1972 Gadsden Hwy., Birmingham, AL 35235
- Mobile: 550 Government St Suite 100, Mobile, Alabama 36602
Talk To An Attorney Today
The process of appealing a disability claim denial is complicated, but when you work with a Social Security Disability attorney, you can increase your chances of receiving the benefits you need. To contact an attorney who can help you with your claim the second time around, complete the free evaluation form.