What to Expect When You Appeal Your Disability Case

Social Security Disability Attorney

Many people who apply for Social Security Disability benefits are turned down at first due to technicalities or the rigidity of the initial approval process. So appeals are common.

Applications for Social Security Disability are reviewed using a series of grids that may fail to capture the complete picture of the situation. But an appeal hearing allows you to meet with an administrative law judge, who can take a more nuanced approach to your case.

You can expect to wait a long time for your appeal hearing. Though it does not feel like it, Rhode Island residents are more fortunate than people in many other states when it comes to hearing wait times.  In Rhode Island, it takes on average seven months to have a hearing and 248 days of processing time.  Compare that to the national average of 11.4 months of waiting and 382 days for processing.  In January 2014, the SSA ranked Rhode Island the third-fastest in the nation for processing.

You may worry about whether your appeal will be successful.  In Rhode Island, 39% of appeals are approved, 23% dismissed, and 38% denied.  But each case is different, and averages are not a good indicator of the strength of your specific case.

A local Social Security Disability benefits attorney who has been through many hearings before the judge assigned to your case can help you assess your likelihood of success on appeal. The attorney also can help you determine whether a pre-hearing brief is advisable and ensure that you are sharing important information.

In Rhode Island:

  • Hearings are in Providence and conducted by one of seven judges.
  • Most hearings are in person (99%), but video hearings are an option for those unable to attend.  Your hearing notice will indicate which type of hearing you will have.

Judges do differ vastly in their approval rates for cases.  Though judges have the independence to weigh evidence and make decisions, they are under increasing political pressure for them to issue more denials.

The case rates for Rhode Island judges are below.

Providence ALJs Case Rates (9/30/2013 – 1/13/2014)

Full Name

Dismissed

Approved

Denied

Judge Hugh S Atkins

21%

51%

28%

Judge Barry H Best

26%

30%

44%

Judge Martha Bower

28%

35%

37%

Judge Donald P Cole

29%

30%

41%

Judge Jason Mastrangelo

24%

19%

57%

Judge V. Paul McGinn

19%

61%

20%

Judge Gerald Resnick

16%

44%

40%

You may or may not receive a decision immediately after your hearing. In either case, you will receive a written decision in the mail a few weeks after the hearing.  If you receive another denial, you can appeal again to the Appeals Council in Virginia and Maryland.

Source:

DisabilityJudges.com