Reinstatement of Reconsideration in Social Security Cases

Published on July 30th, 2019

Reinstatement of Reconsideration in Social Security CasesFor several years, Social Security tested skipping the reconsideration phase in the disability determination process in several states. Michigan was one of those states. Now, the Social Security Administration is phasing the reconsideration step back into the process.

If you receive an initial denial letter for SSI or SSDI, you will have to go through this extra step. In Michigan, the reconsideration step is expected to be reinstated as of October 2019. If you receive a denial—or better yet, before you file your application—hire an attorney experienced in Social Security law to ensure the best possible outcome in your case.

The Social Security Disability Application Process in a Nutshell

It’s always a good idea to retain a social security disability lawyer for the initial process. An attorney will make sure you understand the qualifications before you even file. Mistakes that are made in the initial application phase may jeopardize your claim.

Once the Social Security Administration receives your initial application, your case is forwarded to a State Disability Determination Service, often referred to as DDS. This office determines if you have a disability. If the application is denied, your case goes through three steps for administrative review:

  • The reconsideration process from DDS;
  • The hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ); and
  • A review by the Appeals Council.

If the Appeals Council denies your application, your next step is to appeal in federal court. Right now, the reconsideration process is not in place in Michigan and is not expected to be in place until October 2019.

Initial and Reconsideration Process

Adding the reconsideration process back in the steps a case goes through often adds more time to the process. This is why it is important to maximize your chances of getting approved on the initial application.

Because of the sheer number of people who apply for disability benefits, the Social Security Administration has implemented a system that looks at initial claims for specific illnesses. The Quick Disability Determination and Compassionate Allowances fast-track certain claims such as those for cancer, low birth-weight babies and end-stage renal disease. The list has 25 cancers and 25 rare diseases. As of March 2010, the list added 38 additional conditions for fast-tracking. The list is constantly updated with new impairments.

Claims also go through the eCAT system, the Social Security Administration’s electronic claims analysis tool. The eCAT system aims to improve the speed and quality of disability determinations.

The reconsideration process was eliminated in Michigan in 1999. The Social Security Administration was hoping the elimination would reduce the time it took to make decisions, but instead, it actually increased the time you had to wait for a decision.

According to the Social Security Administration, of the 10 prototype states that removed the reconsideration process in 1999, Michigan had the highest number of hearing requests and some of the biggest backlogs in the country. Adding the reconsideration process back is thought to reduce the hearing requests at the administrative judge level and reduce backlogs. Additionally, the cases that do go through to the administrative judge would be more developed since they would have had to go through the reconsideration process. This is also thought to help reduce backlogs at the hearing level, but it still adds time to the overall time it takes to adjudicate a claim.

Qualification for Social Security Disability Benefits

You cannot just sign up for social security disability benefits and expect to get them. You have to qualify for Social Security benefits, either for yourself or your child. Part of qualification is having enough work credits.

In addition, your medical conditions must also meet the Administration’s definition of disability:

  • You are not able to do the work you were previously doing;
  • Depending on your age, education, and work experience, the Administration decides that you are not able to adjust to other work because of your medical conditions; and
  • Your disability must be expected to last at least a year or it is expected to result in your death.

If You Are Working

If you are working and you apply for Social Security Disability, your earnings need to average less than $1,220 per month in most cases as of calendar year 2019. You are generally not considered disabled if you are able to make more than this on average each month.

Contact a Social Security Attorney for Help

Before you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, contact an experienced Social Security lawyer to help you file your application. An attorney can review your individual situation to help make sure you qualify and significantly reduce the chance of denial when you file for Social Security Disability benefits. If you have already filed and your application was denied, don’t go through the complicated reconsideration process without legal help—before you file your appeal, contact an attorney to help give you the best possible chance of receiving your benefits.

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