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Your right to appeal an SSD denial: Understand the process

Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income are government programs, of course, with specific rules and a specific process set up to ensure that decisions made about these important benefits are made fairly.

The Social Security disability application and appeals process is essentially the same here in Maryland as in other states:

  • Your initial application is considered by Maryland Disability Determination Services and the Social Security Administration.
  • If your claim is denied, you can request reconsideration.
  • If your claim is denied upon reconsideration, you can ask for a hearing before an administrative law judge at the SSA's Office of Disability Adjudication and Review.
  • If your claim is denied, you can appeal to the SSA's Appeals Council.
  • If your claim is denied here, you can still appeal to the federal courts. 

The U.S. Constitution gives you the right to the due process of law in any courtroom or official process, including those involving Social Security disability. You should not feel pressured to forego that right. If you sincerely believe your physical or mental condition should qualify for Social Security disability, it is your right -- and it is in your interest -- to appeal denials of your claim.

You have the right to an attorney, but how can you afford one?

You have the right to be represented by an attorney during the Social Security disability process, although it's not required. If you're not working and have limited resources, though, how can you afford to pay for one?

There are specific rules to protect you by limiting what attorneys can charge in Social Security disability cases:

  • An SSD attorney generally cannot charge you an up-front fee.
  • Your attorney's fees will be paid out of any past-due benefits ultimately determined to be owed to you.
  • Your total fee cannot exceed 25 percent of past-due benefits or $6,000, whichever is lower.
  • For appeals, your attorney can charge a reasonable fee, but the total amount of attorney fees you pay cannot legally exceed 25 percent of your past-due benefits.
  • The SSA must approve any fee arrangements you make.

We know you're suffering, and nobody wants wade through a bunch of rules and regulations. Keep in mind that these programs were set up to help people like you. Don't give up. 

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