How to Appeal A Denial for Social Security Disability in Washington State

How to Appeal A Denial for Social Security Disability in Washington State

Applying for Social Security in Washington State can be an overwhelming process. 

If you are one of the greater than 70% of those who are initially denied your claim, it can be devastating, and your path to getting the benefits you have earned can be hard to see. 

What should you do?  Who can help you? This article was written to give you some clarity.

The first step is calm down, take a deep breath, and if needed contact a disability professional to help you. 

The first thing to know is that your denial letter should explain why you were denied and give you a list of the places social security requested and received medical evidence.  It is very common to read through these letters and be confused and frustrated.  Clearly the Social Security Administration missed the mark somewhere; otherwise, you would not even be reading this article.  Nevertheless – you should familiarize yourself with their statements and prepare yourself for your appeal options.  

Here are your four appeal levels for Social Security in Washington State.

Request for Reconsideration

With your denial letter in hand, you now have 60 days (plus five days for mailing) from the date you received your denial notice to complete a request for reconsideration form and return it to the Social Security address listed in your letter.  You can do this either by mail or by dropping it off at your local Social Security office.   Here is a handy tool to locate Social Security offices in Washington State.

If you were denied because the Social Security Administration did not determine you to be disabled, ask to see what medical evidence they have in your file. When filing your request for reconsideration, you should seek to include as much of the following as possible with your request for reconsideration form:

  • Letter from your doctor stating why he believes you are disabled
  • Letter from friends or family stating how your disability has affected your day to day activities
  • Additional medical evidence that was not originally included in your claim

You do not need to be present for the reconsideration.

And remember, if you are denied because Social Security believes you no longer have a disability, you do have the option to meet with a Washington State Social Security representative to explain you still have a disability.

Talk About Your Social Security Denial With A Disability Lawyer Today

Contact

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Disability Hearing

If your request for reconsideration is denied, then you can request a hearing before an administrative law judge.

Typically, the time between your request and the hearing is 1-2 years, though this timeline can vary widely depending on where you live.  In Spokane, WA – the timeline for disability hearings was 487 days as of the date this article was written.  It is important for you to attend the hearing and bring your representative (if you have one).

Other witnesses, such as medical or vocational experts will likely testify for Social Security.  You or your attorney representative will be able to ask them questions during the hearing and make a strong case for your disability is a barrier to employability.

After the hearing, the judge will make a decision, and you will receive a letter and copy of the decision.

Review by the Appeals Council

If you disagree with the decision made by the judge on your appeal, you can ask for the decision on your claim to be reviewed by the Appeals Council.  At this point, if you have not used a Social Security Disability attorney, it is necessary to start consulting with one.

In short, the Appeals Council will look at your request and decide if they agree with the hearing decision – the decision of the judge based on the evidence provided.

If they believe the ALJ (administrative law judge) decision was correct, then the judge’s decision will be upheld.

If the appeals council believes there was an error in the ALJ’s decision, they may remand your claim back to another administrative law judge for another appeals hearing.

And, rarely, but it does happen – the Appeals Council will overturn a denied claim if they believe the judge’s decision was completely in error. This action would result in an approved disability claim.

Here is data on the Appeals Council Requests for Review so you can get an idea of their backlog.

Federal Court Review

If you do not agree with the Appeals Council, you can file a lawsuit in the Federal District Court.  In the letter sent to you about the Appeals Council decision, you will find information on how to file with the federal court.  You will need an attorney at this point, in any case.  They should be aware of the process of filing a federal district court lawsuit.

How to Choose a Social Security Lawyer in Spokane

How to Choose a Social Security Lawyer in Spokane

 

If you’re looking for a Social Security Lawyer in Spokane, WA or northern Idaho here’s a checklist of five things to consider.

    • Are they actually located in Spokane?
    • Are they Connected to the Community of Spokane? 
    • Do they Help You to Understand Your Social Security Claim?
    • Are they an Expert 
    • Are they Approachable?

 

Are they actually located in Spokane?

 

These are perfectly legitimate question to ask any lawyer your considering working with.  Where are you located?  Can I visit you if I have questions?  Can we schedule a time to discuss my case?

It may surprise you to discover that some law firms that advertise in the Spokane area are not from Spokane at all.  In fact, they only rent an office space, just to have a local address.  Shocking, but we covered these types of misdirection in another article, here.

 

Are they Connected to the Community of Spokane? 

 

One of the biggest benefits to working with a local Social Security lawyer is that you benefit from the connections they’ve made in their work.  It’s very common that someone seeking the help of a Social Security lawyer has other support needs that are a natural handoff to someone who has a robust local network.  An excellent local law firm will have a list of, or at least referrals to, other excellent firms and resources available at request.

 

Do they Help You to Understand Your Social Security Claim?

 

It’s very important that you consider the commitment a local law firm places in helping you to understand your Social Security claim.  The process of appealing SSI & SSDI denials can be confusing, and it can be frustrating.  A great blog & newsletter might seem small when you’re first looking into representation, but these will be the first places you look when you want to know more about something like a reconsideration denial.

In a not so subtle way, a firm that commits to educating their clients is a firm that will be committed to bringing them along every step of the way.  So…take a look at that blog & newsletter.  See if it helps you understand your situation?  Does the firm demonstrate awareness, understanding and expertise in the way they break down the things you don’t know?

 

Are they an Expert & Are they Approachable?

 

Ok, this is a two-part criteria, but you’re aiming to find someone that is both of these at once.  An expert that is unapproachable is not going to help you understand your claim.  And an approachable novice is a novice nonetheless.

They say there’s no substitute for experience, and it takes time, commitment, and success to gain that experience.

As for approachability, take a look at the videos on the lawyer’s website.  Look at their social media pages, and check out the reviews.  You’ll get a “gut” sense pretty quickly about whether that lawyer is someone you can relate to, trust, and share your story with.

 

How Lilac City Law Stacks Up to this Criteria

Now that you’ve seen our list, take a deeper look at our firm.

 

Contact

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.