If you have applied for Social Security disability benefits and been denied, you may be asking, “Now what do I do?” You definitely should not throw up your hands and give up. You should have an experienced disability benefits lawyer review your application and discuss whether a denied Social Security disability appeal is appropriate. Most Oklahomans with valid disability claims receive denial letters at first and have to file one or more appeals to get SSDI benefits. Our experienced attorneys understand the importance of determination and perseverance in pursing Social Security disability appeals.

At Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons, our attorneys help disabled Oklahomans appeal Social Security disability denials. Attorney Philip D. Ryan, a senior partner, focuses his law practice on helping disabled clients pursue the full SSDI benefits they are entitled to by law. He has stood up for disabled clients at more than 3,000 Social Security Disability Insurance hearings and has an active role in all the disability cases the law firm handles. Mr. Ryan is the current chairman of the Disability Law Section of the Oklahoma Bar Association and has written the guide, “Seven Costly Mistakes that Can Ruin Your Disability Claim (and How to Avoid Them).” Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons has been assisting injured and disabled Oklahomans since 1984. Our attorneys and staff are committed to providing personalized, one-on-one service to our clients.

Who Decides Whether You are Disabled in OK?

Simply being unable to perform your old job is not enough to qualify for disability benefits. To qualify for SSDI or SSI disability benefits, a person must be unable to do any type of basic work. In addition, the disabling condition must be expected to last at least a year or be a terminal condition. The Social Security Administration keeps a list of diseases and medical conditions that are considered severe enough to prevent an individual from doing any gainful activity.

In Oklahoma, claims examiners for Disability Determination Services, a division of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, review each person’s application and medical information from doctors and hospitals and determine whether the applicant has one of the listed conditions or a condition of equal severity. If your diagnosed injury or disease is not on the list of conditions, then you must furnish medical evidence that shows that your injury or illness is severe enough to incapacitate you. Based on the medical records, the examiners will make a decision about whether an applicant’s medical condition is one that qualifies him or her for disability benefits.

Many applications are denied because of a lack of adequate medical documentation of the disability or because the claims examiners find that the applicant can still perform some types of basic work.

Once Disability Determination Services makes a decision, you will receive a letter from the Social Security Administration notifying you of the decision. A denial notice does not mean that you will never receive disability benefits. After a Social Security disability denial, you have a right to file an appeal. If your claim has been denied, it’s important to understand the reason. The letter you receive will have a short explanation of the basis of the decision. You may need to provide more medical evidence of your disability or other evidence to qualify for benefits.

How many times can you appeal a Social Security Disability denial?

There are multiple levels of appeal after an SSDI claim denial. If you have received a disability denial letter, you should talk with an experienced Oklahoma disability appeal attorney about the next steps to take. The attorneys at Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons know the kind of medical language that judges are looking for in order to approve benefits.

  • Reconsideration—The first step is essentially seeking an administrative review of your application. You can provide additional facts and supplemental records about your disabling condition and request that Disability Determination Services decide your case again. The case will be assigned to a claims examiner who was not involved in the initial review. You have 60 days to ask for a reconsideration after you have received a denial. Reconsiderations rarely result in a different outcome than the initial decision. More than three quarters of applicants who request a reconsideration of their application receive a denial letter. Procedurally, you are required to file a Request for Reconsideration before proceeding to the next step.
  • Appeal Hearing—If your application is denied upon reconsideration, you can ask for a hearing before an administrative law judge to prove that you should receive disability benefits. Fifteen judges in the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review in Oklahoma City conduct appeal hearings on Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income benefits cases. A disability hearing is a legal proceeding. You will be expected to present evidence supporting your disability claim and comply with the rules of civil procedure.It is important to have a knowledgeable disability appeal attorney representing you at this point in the appeals process. The Social Security Administration will have experienced professionals presenting their case to deny your benefits. Having a seasoned attorney advocating for you will increase your chances of obtaining a positive outcome. You will be at a disadvantage without legal representation. Your lawyer will gather your medical records and evidence of your disability. The lawyer also may hire medical experts to testify about how your condition limits your ability to work and your prognosis. Approximately 40 percent of applicants win their appeals at this stage. The administrative law judge rarely issues a bench ruling. Typically, the judge issues a Notice of Decision after the hearing.
  • Appeals Council—If you disagree with the administrative law judge’s decision, you can file a Request for Review by the Social Security Disability Appeals Council. The Appeals Council focuses on whether the administrative law judge made an error of law in deciding your appeal. You have 60 days to file the request from the date of receiving the decision of the administrative law judge. The Appeals Council may award benefits, deny benefits or send the case back to the administrative law judge for further consideration. The average length of time to process these appeals is more than a year. This step in the appeals process should be handled by an experienced attorney who handles SSDI and SSI appeals.
  • Federal Court—If the Appeals Council denies your request or declines to hears your appeal, you may then file a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court to seeking disability benefits. You have 60 days to file a lawsuit after receiving notice of the Appeals Council decision. If you reside in Oklahoma City, for example, the disability appeal lawsuit would be filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. The federal court will review whether the administrative law judge made an error in rejecting your request for disability benefits.Our disability appeals attorneys at Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons have the knowledge and experience to help you present your strongest appeal at every stage of the appeals process.

Why should I hire an SSDI Lawyer?

The process of filing an appeal after a denied SSDI or SSI claim involves dealing with a lot of red tape and complying with tight deadlines. Having an experienced SSDI appeals lawyer who understands the process can make the appeals process go more smoothly. Keep in mind that most Oklahomans’ applications for disability benefits are turned down initially. Many Oklahomans seek the guidance of a knowledgeable disability appeals lawyer and eventually obtain benefits. Appeals are necessary in most instances to collect SSDI or SSI benefits.

An attorney who handles SSD appeals can lead you through the bureaucratic appeals process and advocate for your interests at every step in the process. Having a knowledgeable attorney handling your appeal can help you avoid unnecessary delays and allow your appeal to be handled as efficiently as possible.

Our attorneys at Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons know what it takes to meet Social Security’s strict definition of disabled and what types of evidence the administrative law judges are seeking in order to grant a disability claim. Working with our denied SSDI appeal attorney can help you present the strongest appeal for disability benefits under federal Social Security law.

Our SSD appeal lawyers never request an attorney fee in a disability appeal unless the client is approved for disability benefits. Contact us for a review of your disability claim to discuss whether an appeal is the right step to take.

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