Appeals And Hearings

We're On Your Side

It is an unfortunate truth that if you are applying for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA), you need to be prepared to face the possibility that your initial application will be denied. However, a denial does not mean that you are not qualified to receive benefits. It indicates that SSA believes you have not done enough to prove your eligible status, and Burgess & Christensen can help remedy the situation through the appeals process.

There are four common levels of appeal, and we have experience achieving successful results at all stages of the process. SSA only gives you 60 days to file an appeal, so it is important to avoid delays and pay attention to deadlines. When you work with our team, we monitor these critical timelines for you to keep your case on track.

Appeal #1 – Reconsideration

While most people succeed in gaining approval for benefits after a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge, applicants cannot simply request a hearing after their initial application has been denied. Instead, you must first request a reconsideration of your application.

When you file for reconsideration, SSA will obtain updated evidence in your file for review.  The evidence in your file is reviewed by examiners who apply SSA’s strict standards, and they are often not convinced of an applicant’s eligibility based on the paperwork in the file. If your application is denied at reconsideration, then you can request a hearing.

Appeal #2—Administrative Hearing

Once you request a hearing, you will have the option of selecting the format that is used for your hearing. You can now choose to stay at home and have your hearing by telephone or video, or you can choose to go in-person for your hearing at your local hearing office. We can help you choose the best option for your hearing.

The hearing to determine whether you should receive disability benefits will be conducted in front of an Administrative Law Judge. The hearing is closed proceeding that is not open to the public, and is less formal than the proceedings that you see on tv. We will help you understand what to expect and discuss how to answer questions in a way that conveys your information honestly and completely. For instance, many people have a tendency to downplay the severity of their limitations and the extent of their pain to avoid burdening others with their troubles and maintain their pride. The hearing is the time to be honest, and admit the difficulties you are having on a daily basis.

In preparation for the hearing, we will make sure that your file is updated for the judge’s review. We will also prepare a brief for the judge to explain why we believe that you qualify for disability. When the judge considers the totality of the evidence we present, the questions you answer, and the arguments presented on your behalf, you have your best chance of receiving a favorable outcome and being approved for benefits.

Appeal #3 – The Appeals Council

If the judge denies your case at the hearing level, the decision can be appealed to the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council most often reviews hearing denials to determine whether the judge made any errors in deciding your case. If the Appeals Council reviews the documentation from the hearing and agrees with the judge’s decision, they will decline to review your case. If the Council believes a matter requires further review, they may decide the matter themselves or they may send your case back to the judge with instructions to conduct another hearing.

Burgess & Christensen has experience appealing cases at this level, and we understand how to succeed with the Appeals Council.

Appeal #4 – Federal Court

If the Appeals Council denies your request for review, our team may be able to file a lawsuit in federal district court. While this is not a common occurrence, our depth of experience in handling disability claims has led our team to pursue numerous cases successfully in federal district court.

Burgess & Christensen Knows How to Make the Most of the Opportunities for Appeals

We know how frustrating it can be to receive a notice that your application for disability benefits has been denied when you are so clearly in need of these benefits. This is why our team is dedicated to helping people in your position gain the benefits they deserve.

If you have been denied or are concerned about denial and the appeals process, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation to learn more about the ways we can help you get disability benefits to secure your future. 

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    Free evaluation of your case

    When you are unable to work, you still need to support yourself and your family. Call us at 770-422-8111 or contact us online. We do not charge any fees until the disability claim is approved and our fees are authorized.