Did you apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits in California, only to be denied? Such a decision is frustrating and alarming when you can’t work and desperately need to benefits to take care of yourself and your family, but you do have a second chance.
All denied applicants are allowed to appeal the decision, provided they do so within 60 days.
Why SSD Claims Are Denied
SSD claims are denied for different reasons. Sometimes it is a single factor that turns the decision against you, while other times a combination of factors result in a refusal of your claim. Below is a list of the more frequently-cited reasons for denying benefits and how they hurt your chances of being approved.
- Incomplete medical documentation: If the medical documentation that you submit does not clearly illustrate the limitations of your impairment, the Social Security Administration may question your inability to work.
- Other factors appear to contribute to your disability: When you don’t comply with your doctor’s treatment plan or opt to abuse alcohol and recreational drugs, the SSA may conclude that you are not interested in improving your situation (and even making it worse) and deny your claim.
- You make too much money: Your monthly earnings are another factor that the SSA takes into account when deciding whether to approve or deny a claim. For 2019 your income can average no more than $1,220 per month unless you are blind, in which case the limit is $2,040. If you are working and taking home more at the time you apply, your claim will be denied.
- Not cooperating with the SSA: If you fail to appear for scheduled medical examinations, ignore requests for additional information or documentation, or otherwise come across as uncooperative to the SSA, your claim will probably be rejected.
When it comes to disability applications, the approval in California is approximately 47%, which is above the national average of 33%. For those who are not approved the first time around, the next step is to file an appeal at their closest ODAR office.
Next Step: Your ODAR Office
The Office of Disability Adjudication & Review (ODAR) is a branch of the Social Security Administration. It has 10 regional offices and 169 hearing offices, and is your resource for appealing a benefits claim denial. To get started, you will have to contact your closest ODAR office.
In California, there are 17 locations, the most prominent of which are:
- Los Angeles West: 12121 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 400, Los Angeles, California 90024. Phone: 1-866-748-2089
- Oakland: Oakland Federal Building, Suite 200N 1301 Clay Street, Oakland, California 9461. Phone: 1-866-366-4916
- San Diego: 525 B Street, 8th Floor, San Diego, California 92101. Phone: 1-866-331-2294
- Fresno: 2440 Tulare Street, Suite 300, Fresno, California. Phone: 1-866-596-7568
To request a hearing for your appeal, contact your closest office (in person, via phone, or via email) or file your appeal application online. You may have to wait a period of time for a response.
In Fresno, for example, the average wait time for a hearing is 22 months and it takes an average of 685 days for a case to be processed. In Los Angeles, you can expect to wait 20 months for a hearing and 591 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
The Social Security Disability appeal process is not simple. Guidance from an experienced Social Security Disability attorney will help you prevent undue delays and denials and put your appeal package in the best possible shape.
To increase your chances of getting the benefits you need, your attorney will assume responsibility for:
- Collecting and completing all necessary forms
- Reviewing and submitting medical records related to your disability and treatment
- Preparing you for questions at the hearing
- Providing you with experienced legal counsel before the ALJ
If you have mobility challenges or are hesitant about working with the SSA directly, you attorney can act on your behalf, either by going to your local SSA offices or contacting them via phone or email. California has several SSA offices, but the three below have the highest number of ALJs available.
- Los Angeles: 4000 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010
- Fresno: 5140 E Olive Ave, Fresno, California 93727
- San Francisco: 90 7th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Talk To An Attorney Today
Any legal claim can be challenging to the average person, and appealing an SSD claim denial is no different. An experienced and reliable Social Security Disability attorney will present your claim in accordance with SSA expectations and improve your chances of getting the benefits you need.
To contact an attorney and get your appeal under way, complete the free evaluation form.