What Percentage of Disability Appeals Are Approved In Rhode Island?

a lighthouse in Rhode Island

You may take weeks gathering all the proper paperwork then submitting all the required medical records and doctor’s notes. From there, you may spend even longer anxiously waiting to hear back from the Social Security Administration (SSA) Office. Will your application be approved or denied? Unfortunately for disabled individuals, the denials outnumber the approvals. Each year, thousands of Rhode Islanders apply for Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits, and about 45 percent of those applications are approved.  The national average approval rating for Social Security benefits is approximately 38 percent, so when you compare with other states, Rhode Island is doing well. However, even with a higher-than-average approval rating, this means that 55 percent of Rhode Islanders who apply for Social Security Disability benefits receive a denial letter.

My Initial SSDI Application Was Denied – Now What?

If you’re disabled and unable to provide financially for yourself, receiving a denial letter from the SSA can be extremely frustrating and stressful. Nevertheless, an initial denial doesn’t mean that you have to take the decision lying down and try to work despite your disability. You can fight the decision and file an appeal – and your case will be made even stronger by working with an experienced SSDI lawyer. After you receive a letter explaining why your Social Security disability application was denied, you will usually have 60 days to file an appeal. There are typically four stages of appeal for a Rhode Island disability claim. Your attorney can help you through this process so time is saved, mistakes are avoided, and your stress is reduced.

Request for Reconsideration

The Request for Reconsideration form can be completed and filed online, or a paper copy can be filled out and submitted. Your application will then be reviewed by someone at the Disability Services Office. The review of your application will be done by someone other than whoever conducted the initial review. Unfortunately, less than 20 percent of these appeal requests are approved by the SSA. This leaves most applicants to move onto the second stage of the appeal process.

Disability hearing

Your next step in appealing a denial is to file for a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. You’ll have 60 days from your denial at the Reconsideration stage to file a request for a hearing, and you can easily file online. An administrative law judge will be assigned to your case, interview you, and speak to experts. The downside is that the average wait time for an SSDI hearing in Rhode Island is 10 months, and then it may take up to 2 months after that to receive notification of the judge’s decision. While it certainly is disheartening to have to wait so long for a hearing, it could be worth the wait. A little over 45 percent of cases presented before an administrative judge are approved.

Review by the Appeals Council

If the administrative law judge denies your claim, you may still have recourse. You can then request that the Appeals Council review your case. The council may refuse to review your case if they find that the original hearing decision was correct in accordance with Social Security regulations and laws. However, if the Appeals Council does decide to review your case, they will examine the administrative law judge’s decision for any errors.

Federal court review

If the Appeals Council denies your claim and refuses to review it, one of your last options will be to file an appeal on a federal level. A federal judge will review your claim and the reason why your claim was denied. He or she may decide to award your Social Security benefits, request a new hearing, or dismiss the case entirely.

Will Hiring a Lawyer Increase Your Chances of Approval?

As you can see, the process is anything but simple. Filing for Social Security benefits can be complex, frustrating, and overwhelming. While you aren’t required to hire an attorney to represent you during the application process, of course, hiring one can greatly increase your chances of success. Claims are often denied in the initial stage because applicants don’t know how to fill out the necessary paperwork. Meanwhile, some don’t provide enough evidence of their medical condition to show how it’s affecting their ability to work. A lawyer can help you fill out the SSDI application or even fill it out on your behalf. An attorney can also help you gather the documentation needed to substantiate your claim. This might include detailed medical records and referrals, medication history, employment history, and IRS forms. The SSA will work directly with your attorney and provide him or her with any updates to your claim. Your attorney will update you on the status of your case and be available to answer any questions that you may have throughout the Social Security application and appeal process.

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