The Level Your Social Security Disability Claim was Denied at
Very often, I would get a call from a disability claimant who had been denied on a social security disability or SSI claim claim and had no idea what level of the system the disability denial had occurred at.
Why is it important to know this (the level the case has been denied at)? Because, when your claim gets denied, you need to file an appeal. But whether you are filing the appeal on your own or you have a rep (an attorney or non attorney claimant's representative) to do this for you, you need to know which particular appeal to file. Generally speaking, this means either a request for reconsideration or a request for hearing before an administrative law judge.
Finding out which appeal to file is fairly easy. The language used on the letter informing a claimant that their initial claim has been denied is different from the language used on the letter informing a claimant that their reconsideration has been denied. If you contact a prospective representative following the receipt of your denial notice (i.e., you have decided to opt for representation), of course, all you have to do is read the first two or three paragraphs over the phone to them and they will know which level of the system your claim was denied at.
What happens if you have lost the denial notice (this happens a lot)? Not a problem. If you are filing the appeal on your own, you can contact the social security office, inform them that you wish to appeal, and they will send you the appropriate forms. If you are using a rep, not a problem either. The rep can simply contact either the social security office where you decided to file for disability or the state disability agency (usually known as DDS in most states) where the decision on the disability claim was issued.
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