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What can you do if your application for SSI benefits is denied?

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Having a disability can make life challenging, especially financially. Sometimes simply affording the basics, such as food, shelter and clothing becomes impossible without assistance. Fortunately, individuals in Charlotte may apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a government program that provides financial benefits to qualifying applicants. It is the financial safety many need to get by day-to-day.

However, it is the unfortunate fact that oftentimes a person’s initial application for SSI benefits will be denied. Fortunately, there is an appeals process that applicants can use to attempt to obtain the benefits they need. The following information describes that process, but as always, the information found on this blog is not legal advice, and readers are encouraged to seek the help they need to address their specific situation.

The first step in the appeals process is reconsideration. A worker with the Social Security Administration who was not involved in the initial assessment of your application will review the application and determine whether to award benefits.

If your application for SSI benefits is denied after reconsideration, the next step in the appeals process is a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). At that hearing the ALJ will examine the evidence on the record and may ask witnesses to provide testimony. You or your representative will also be able to ask the witnesses questions. In certain circumstances you may be able to provide new evidence not contained in your initial application.

If the ALJ rejects your application for benefits, the next step in the appeals process is to request a review by the Appeals Council. In general, the Appeals Council will only base its decision on the information on your record, although in limited circumstances it may be possible to present new evidence.

If your application is rejected by the Appeals Council, then the final step in the appeals process is to file an action with the U.S. District Court. The District Court will review the evidence on the record along with the final Agency decision. Your case may be sent back for a new hearing with an ALJ, or you may be directly awarded or denied benefits.

As this process shows, while there are opportunities to appeal a denial of an application for SSI benefits, they become increasingly more complex. Many people do not have experience with the appeals process, and it is not something individuals typically want to handle alone. Fortunately, those facing such situations can seek legal guidance so that they can understand their rights and what they must do to increase their chances of success on appeal.

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