Tennessee Disability Reconsideration Denied: What Now?
February 11th, 2022 by Attorney John Colvin
When your original application for disability benefits was denied, you were likely frustrated but not especially surprised. You may have known that approximately 65% of initial claims are denied, so you submitted a request for reconsideration. Now that’s been denied too. What are your options past the reconsideration level?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides various ways to appeal a denial. If your disability reconsideration was denied in Tennessee, working with a TN disability lawyer can make a pivotal difference in the outcome. John R. Colvin, Attorney at Law, has handled a wide range of Social Security Disability applications and claim denials and helped many clients obtain the benefits they need after illness or injury has left them disabled.
When you work with our law firm, you get a committed legal advocate who understands how the SSA works and what they are looking for in a benefits application. Attorney Colvin can assist you with your initial application for benefits and represent you through all stages of the appeals process, increasing your chances of eventual approval.
Why are Disability Reconsiderations Denied?
The reason for your denial will be stated in the decision letter you receive. Common reasons include:
- According to the medical evidence, your condition is not severe enough to prevent you from working.
- There is other work you can do based on your age, skills education, and mental or physical restrictions.
- You have reported earnings after your alleged onset date even though you did not work after your alleged onset date.
These are generic grounds that fail to address the real reason(s) for your denial. Depending on your situation, these reasons may include:
- You didn’t receive credit for the work you did because your wages weren’t properly reported.
- Your educational history was inaccurate.
- You failed to describe your jobs accurately, so SSA misclassified their physical and mental demands.
- You didn’t see the doctor enough times before applying for benefits, so the doctor’s opinion on your medical issues could not be considered authoritative.
- Your doctor did not see you for long enough to confirm that your medical condition meets the accepted disability criteria.
- Your medical providers failed to document your symptoms, disability, and work restrictions in your medical records, resulting in insufficient evidence.
- Neither your medical documentation nor your Social Security forms noted your level of pain and limitations.
- The Social Security Administration didn’t consider each of your medical conditions individually in regards to your ability to perform work-related activities.
- The SSA didn’t consider the disabling effect of all your medical conditions combined.
- The SSA found that you failed to complete requested reports or keep consultative examination appointments.
These grounds for denial are rarely specified, so many claimants don’t know the issues they need to address in their appeal. A Social Security Disability appeal attorney in Tennessee can examine your initial application, ask that it be reopened, and protect your right to have your claim properly reviewed upon appeal.
What Are Your Options After a Reconsideration Stage Denial?
Social Security Disability denials can be frustrating and disappointing, but they do not have to be the end of your claim process. An adverse disability decision can be appealed. In fact, there are multiple levels of appeal within the Social Security system: request for reconsideration, hearing level, and Appeals Council review. If a claim is not approved at any level of appeal, you can still take it to a federal court.
The Hearing Level
If you object to the reconsideration decision, you have the right to request a hearing, which will be conducted by an administrative law judge (ALJ) who is not bound by the prior decision of the state agency and did not participate in either the original decision or the reconsideration determination. These proceedings are usually held at hearing offices within 75 miles of the applicant’s home. Once your hearing request has been received and scheduled, you will be notified of the date and time.
In preparation for the hearing, you may be asked to submit additional evidence or clarify medical documentation that you’ve already submitted. During the hearing, the ALJ will question you regarding your medical conditions and limitations. Other witnesses — such as medical or vocational experts — may also provide relevant information, and your attorney is allowed to question them.
In certain cases, your appeal hearing may be conducted via video conference, rather than in person. If that’s the case, you’ll be notified before the hearing. Video hearings can often be scheduled faster than in-person appearances, and attendance may be more convenient for witnesses too. Whether you appear in person or via video, it is usually best to attend the hearing to present your case.
After hearing all the evidence and performing a complete review of the administrative record, the administrative law judge will make a hearing decision, which will be sent to you via letter. If it’s a denial notice, you do have the option to file a request for review to the Appeals Council within 60 days.
The Appeals Council and Beyond
The SSA’s Appeals Council consists of about approximately 70 administrative judges, over 50 appeals officers, and hundreds of support personnel. If it grants your request for review, the entire decision will be examined, not just the points that you disagree with. It will either make a decision itself or remand your case to an administrative law judge for a new review and decision.
The Appeals Council may take a long time to decide your case, as it receives over 100,000 requests for review every year. The average wait time can be measured in months to even years in some cases. When it does get around to your case, you will be notified of the Appeals Council’s decision via letter.
Should that decision be a denial, the final appeal option that can be pursued in the appeals process is a federal court review. This step requires that a civil action be instituted in the United States federal district court. The federal court action must be filed within 60 days of the Appeals Council denial.
It is important to remember that in certain cases, even if you are denied at the hearing level and do not appeal the judge’s unfavorable decision, it might be worthwhile to file a new application if you are still eligible for benefits based upon your work credits and/or you meet the non-medical rules. Should your disability get worse or your medical condition be addressed in the Blue Book (the SSA listing of impairments), you can make another attempt to qualify for benefits. You may also be eligible for a Medical-Vocational Allowance if your mental or physical disabilities keep you from working but do not meet a Blue Book listing.
All of this may sound discouraging, but keep in mind that a substantial number of people who are denied Social Security Disability are approved at one of the appeal levels, especially if you work with an SSD lawyer. Therefore, if you consider yourself disabled, it is worthwhile to appeal, especially if you have additional evidence to present.
How Can an SSD Disability Attorney Help You?
Surveys have repeatedly shown that hiring a disability lawyer for the claims process can make a big difference in the outcome of SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) and SSI (Social Security Insurance) applications. In some cases, having an attorney doubled an applicants’ chances of getting benefits, either initially or after a successful appeal.
John R. Colvin, Attorney at Law, has decades of experience helping disability clients navigate the complex benefits application process. He can help you apply for SSD, collect all necessary medical records, and guide you through any necessary appeal process should you receive an initial denial.
We have spoken to many people who believe they can’t afford to hire a lawyer for their disability claims. The truth is that SSD attorneys typically handle cases on a contingency basis pursuant to the congressional fee agreement model approved and recognized by the Social Security Administration. This means that you can retain a licensed attorney of your own to represent you before the Administration by signing a fee agreement wherein they are paid from a percentage of the back pay that you recover in your disability claim.
Don’t attend a disability hearing or court appearance without experienced representation. Your future income and financial security are at stake. You need to hire a disability law firm that will be on your side and fight to help you win the benefits you deserve.
Speak to a Disability Reconsideration Denied Lawyer About Your Case
Social Security disability benefits are intended for people who cannot work due to illness or injury. However, rather than feeling cared for and protected by the system, many disabled workers are frustrated and isolated when they are not able to access the benefits they are entitled to.
At the law office of John R. Colvin, Attorney at Law, compassion, and understanding underscore our commitment to helping those who need Social Security disability benefits. Whether you have been denied benefits or are preparing your first application, we can provide the assistance you need. To schedule a no-obligation initial consultation about your claim, please call (931) 962-1044 (Winchester), (931) 962-1044 (Tullahoma), or contact us online.
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advise for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.