Many clients make first contact with me after receiving a denial letter for an initial application for Social Security disability benefits. It is crucial to appeal the denial of your benefits right away.
After an appeal, the next step in most states (including Maine) is Reconsideration (in New Hampshire, however, disability claims go directly from an initial denial to the hearing level – there is no Reconsideration step in New Hampshire). At Reconsideration the claim goes back to DDS, but gets assigned to a different disability examiner and medical team. They review the claim, consider any new evidence, and make new determination.
The Reconsideration step of the Social Security disability claim process can be an unfriendly place. On a national basis, almost 8 out of 9 claims are denied again at Reconsideration. Even when a claim is denied at Reconsideration, being involved as a lawyer at this stage can help to frame the issues for the hearing, so it is almost always worthwhile to get help at this stage.
In recent months I have had several clients granted disability benefits at Reconsideration. When a claim is allowed at Reconsideration, there is usually new medical evidence. When I look at the claim file after the initial denial, I sometimes ascertain that important medical records were never seen at the initial level before a determination was made. We then provide that missing evidence. When possible, we also develop medical opinion evidence that supports disability. All this new evidence provides a more complete picture of the applicant's functional limitations, leading to an allowance of the claim at Reconsideration.