For some Philadelphia residents, having a limited income can be very financially straining. When this is due to a disability, an individual might have the opportunity to apply for certain benefits through the Social Security Administration. Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, is a benefit afforded to those with limited income that have personal assets within the eligibility requirements and are determined to be 65-years-old or older, a disabled or blind adult or a disabled or blind child.
SSI benefits are still available to those who collect Medicaid; therefore, those receiving other benefits should not be deterred from applying for these benefits. However, those that are initially denied should not be deterred and should understand their rights to appeal the decision.
What is the appeal process for denied SSI claims? When an SSI application is denied and an applicant wishes to send a written appeal form, this request must be made within 60 days from the date you received your letter denying your benefits. The appeal process has four levels. This includes reconsideration, hearing by an administrative law judge, review by the Appeals Council and Federal Court review. When an applicant is denied benefits, the letter will include the course of action the applicant should take when appealing the decision.
For reconsideration, an individual who did not take part in the first decision will make a complete review of the decision. Evidence submitted will be looked at in conjunction with any new evidence. If you do not agree with the reconsideration decision, then you may request a hearing that is conducted by an administrative law judge that had no part in the original decision or the reconsideration of the case. At the hearing, the judge will question you and any witnesses you bring. The judge will make a decision based on all the information provided.
If an applicant does not agree with the hearing decision, a review by the Social Security Appeals Council can be requested. However, the request could be denied if the Appeals Council believes the hearing decision was correct. If an applicant’s case is reviewed, the Appeals Council will either decide the case or return it to an administrative law judge for further review. If you disagree with the decision of the Appeals Council or if they decide to not review your case, you are afforded the opportunity to file a lawsuit in a federal district court.
Source: Ssa.gov, “The Appeals Process,” accessed May 30, 2016