Elia & Ponto

Michigan Social Security Disability Lawyer

Have you or a loved one been denied Social Security Benefits or plan to apply for benefits in the near future? Get in touch with an experienced Michigan Social Security Disability Lawyer at Elia & Ponto Today!

It can truly be a burden for you or a loved one when you are wrongfully denied Social Security Disability (SSD) Benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Many families with disabled individuals typically rely on income that was denied to pay their bills and provide food to their household

Unfortunately, in many situations, Michigan citizens do not understand that they have a legal right to benefits offered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). The Michigan social security disability lawyers at Elia & Ponto are suited to handle Michigan Social Security Disability Appeals and Initial Applications.  A Michigan Social Security Disability Lawyer may also be able to help with Supplemental Security Income appeals.

Elia & Ponto

Michigan Social Security Disability Lawyer

  • When you call 855.75.EPLAW we will immediately assess the general merits of your claim and make a preliminary determination as to whether we should further investigate your claim. If we feel you may have a claim, we will schedule a formal meeting with you that will generally take place within 24 hours of your phone call. Remember, the initial compensation is FREE, and you will never owe our office anything until and unless we collect on your behalf.County
  • If you are not able to come to our office, a representative of our office will visit you at your home, the hospital or any other public location. During this time we will dive into the details of your incident in order to further investigate your situation and begin to derive an efficient plan to pursue your claim.
  • After the initial consultation, our team members will put your claim into motion as intelligently and efficiently as possible.
  • During all aspects of the claim, we will keep you updated and informed. When decisions need to be made, we will gladly provide our professional opinions when need be, but we will also allow you to consult your friends and loved ones. Many of these changes could be life altering, and at The Law Firm of Elia & Ponto, we do not want our clients to feel pressured into making any decisions.
  • Throughout the life of your claim, it is always our goal to obtain the maximum possible recovery that your may be entitled to.
  • Remember that The Law Firm of Elia & Ponto works on a one-third (33%) contingent fee basis, which means that we will provide all upfront costs in pursuing your claim, and that you will not owe our office anything, unless and until, we make a recovery on your behalf.
Elia & Ponto

FAQ’s about Social Security

I filed for Social Security Benefits in Michigan and my claim was denied. What do I do now?

It is not uncommon for SSA to deny an initial application for benefits. As soon as you receive a denial, you need to act immediately. You only have 60 days from the date stamped on the letter to appeal the denial and preserve your claim.

If I get Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits, what should I expect to receive?

Disability Insurance Benefits may include Medicare medical coverage, individual benefits, and family benefits. The amount of the benefits is based on a formula in the Social Security Act, as well as the amount that the Internal Revenue Service shows as your SSA earnings.

How do I know if I am disabled for purposes of receiving Social Security Disability Benefits?

Under the Social Security Act, an eligible “disability” means the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months or result in death.” If you are not certain if you qualify, you should speak with your family physician and contact our office regarding your qualifications for benefits.

I have not worked in recent years. Could I still qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits?

SSA requires a specific amount of Social Security earnings (work credits) to qualify. As a general rule, if you worked for 5 out of the last 10 years, you probably acquired enough credits. You certainly should contact the SSA or consult with a lawyer to determine whether or not you qualify.

I have a mental or psychological condition that prevents me from working. Can I still receive benefits?

According to the Social Security Act, a “disability” can be physical or mental, or a combination of both. The key is that a doctor finds objective medical evidence that you are unable to work for a period of at least 12 consecutive months.

Can I apply for Social Security Benefits on my own?

Yes. You can file your own application for Social Security Disability Benefits or SSI, and represent yourself in seeking benefits. However, statistics indicate that claimants who have legal representation, especially on appeals, win their benefits much more often than those who represent themselves. If you retain our office, there is no fee if we are unsuccessful in obtaining benefits on your behalf. If we our law firm is successful, our fee is defined by the government and kept very reasonable.

I was denied Social Security Benefits last year, but my condition has gotten worse. Can I try for benefits again?

Yes. There is no limit to the number of times you can apply for benefits. If you feel that you now qualify for benefits, you can reapply for consideration.

If I receive Social Security Disability Benefits, how long will the benefits last?

You may receive benefits for as long as you remain disabled from gainful employment and meet all other SSA requirements. It is possible that the SSA will periodically review your condition by requesting a medical evaluation.

My disabling condition was brought on by alcoholism or drug addiction. Can I still qualify for benefits?

To determine whether or not you may have a claim, you should consult with an attorney. If drug addiction and/or alcoholism is a contributing factor that is material to the determination that you are disabled, you may not qualify for benefits, according to the Social Security Act, sections 223(d)(2) and 1614(a)(3).

How long will it take to get my benefits?

For an initial application, it typically takes 4-6 months to get a decision. Once denied and an appeal has been filed, it typically takes between 12-18 months to get a hearing depending upon the ODAR. After the hearing, it will take an additional 2-3 months to get the decision, and an additional 1-2 months to receive your money if you win.

What should I do about (bills, rent, etc.) while my case is pending & I can’t work?

Unfortunately, many people filing for SS disability benefits are also having financial difficulties. One option is to try and apply for benefits with DHS (food stamps, Medicaid, cash assistance). Another option is to contact local organizations (211-United Way, Salvation Army, etc) for assistance.

I have no insurance. How am I supposed to go to the doctor?

Due to being off work, many Social Security claimants are in the unfortunate position of being without medical insurance. It is important to try to get medical care during this time, #1 and most importantly, to care for your health, and #2 because in order for an ALJ to decide your case favorably, there needs to be medical evidence in the record which substantiates your claim for disability. There are community programs in most counties to look into. Also, United way (211) may be able to help find a doctor/clinic that you can go to at little or no cost. Some claimants have to go to the emergency room for medical care at times.

What can be done to speed up the case?

There is very little, if anything, that can be done to speed up the claim. There is a SSA backlog of individuals waiting to have their claims heard before Administrative Law Judges. There are circumstances when a hearing may be scheduled more quickly. For example, the SSA has defined certain terminal illnesses that will qualify a claimant to get a quicker hearing.

What are my chances of winning?

There is no way to know for certain how your case will be decided. The medical evidence in the file is needed to support your claims of disability, so the best way to help your claim get approved is by getting regular medical treatment and following prescribed courses of treatment.

Can my spouse, child or friend can answer questions for me at the hearing because they are better at knowing dates, diagnoses, etc?

Usually the only person that will testify at the hearing is the claimant. However, in certain circumstances (head injury, mental illness, etc), another person may be able to offer additional testimony that the claimant is not able to convey. In these instances, we will call additional witnesses to testify at the hearing.

I’m being evicted/house is in foreclosure, what should I do?

If you are evicted or receive a judgment of foreclosure, your hearing may be scheduled more quickly due to dire economic need. This is totally within the discretion of the SSA and we cannot guarantee that requesting this will speed wait time up. Keep in mind that the vast majority of individuals waiting for their disability hearing have financial problems, and that the SSA will only look at the MOST DIRE circumstances when considering a dire need request.

Is there anything I can put on my application that would improve my chances of winning?

You need to be specific about the disabilities that you suffer from and the functional limitations that those disabilities cause. You also need to list the doctors that you see regularly and medications/treatment they prescribe.

I’m nervous about the hearing. What will it be like?

The hearing is relatively informal. You will be placed under oath before testifying, and so will any other witnesses. You will answer questions that the Judge and your representative ask (if you have one). Then the vocational and/or medical expert will testify in response to hypothetical questions posed by the Judge about what type of work you may be able to do considering your disability. The judge will most likely not make a decision on the day of the hearing, but will issue a written decision within 1-2 months. You will receive a copy of that decision by mail.

Can I go back to work? If I do, how will that affect my case?

You are the only person that can make the determination about when/if you should go back to work. There are many variables involved and the answer really depends on your unique situation. If you are working and earning over $1040 per month (for 2013), then you are engaged in what the SSA calls “substantial gainful activity” and are therefore not disabled. However, if you attempt to go back to work but are unsuccessful due to your disability after a very short period of time, then the SSA may not hold that against you. If you are off work for over a year due to a disability and then are able to return to work, then you may be eligible for benefits for a “closed period”.


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At Elia & Ponto your case will be handled by a top rated attorney, not a paralegal or law clerk. We offer a free, no obligation case review and we will represent you on a contingent fee basis.

Michigan Social Security Disability Help

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Difference between SSD and SSI

Social security Disability (SSD) is considered to be an entitlement benefit program run by the government. Its main source of funding is payroll taxes paid by the individual claimant. Therefore, through making regular social security taxes, employees, employers and the self-employed gradually build up their benefits. SSDI beneficiaries are considered to be insured when they have made such contributions over a number of years Spouses, parents, or personal work history are the beneficiaries of the accumulated benefits. Social security disability insurance and Retirement, survivors and disability insurance are other common names of SSD.

Additional information on the SSDI is that the SSA will not begin to offer benefits for the first five months after the occurrence of a disability. There are a standard five months waiting period that accounts for the various requirements and procedures. After the five months, the amount of monthly benefits received depends on factors such as the record of earnings similar to the Social security retirement benefits.

Social Security Disability Benefits (SSD) are given to disabled workers who have sufficient previous income to qualify for Social Security Administration (SSA) requirements.  SSA considers previous work history before the disability. The qualification is that if one works for 5 out of the previous 10 years, they have sufficient work credits.

There are also a number of factors that determine SSD benefits eligibility that are outlined below.

  • The initial requirement is the number of work credits available as outlined above.
  • The type of disability is evaluated by looking at whether it has been in existence or will extend for at least a year or is foreseen to cause death.
  • The nature and extent of the disability are also considered.
  • The inability to perform any gainful activity after the commencement of the impairment.
  • The date of commencement of the disability.

On the other hand, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) refers to a government program that is given on a need be the basis for people who have limited resources and income.  Any individual who owns limited assets is eligible to benefit from the program. The program is supported by revenues from tax and the benefits paid out are dependent on state and federal laws which consider factors such as the amount of income received, residency location and other people who you live with.

Although both the social security disability insurance and the Supplementary Security income are managed by both the Social security Administration, while having similarities in medical eligibility, they are distinct programs.  For instance, SSDI has higher approval rates than the average for SSI. The main reason for the difference is in the higher probability of SSDI applicants to have a higher income than SSI applicants.  Moreover, judges give more precedence to applicants with records of long work histories a factor that SSI applicants lack.

If you or a loved one is experiencing problems receiving benefits or is planning to apply for such benefits, our lawyers can provide fast and easy consultation.  Fill out a simple free consultation form to get assistance.

Elia & Ponto

Benefits for family members of a person approved for SSD

The benefits of people approved for SSD may also extend to their family members. The benefits given to the family will still be dependent on the initial earnings of the disabled earner. In most cases, the spouses and children of a deceased beneficiary who had sufficient work credits are also eligible for the Social Security Disability benefits.

The basic requirement is that the family member should have been financially dependent on the disabled worker who is to receive the benefits. These benefits are also known as auxiliary or dependent’s benefits. However, disabled people who are already receiving SSI are excluded from receiving the benefits.

SSD Basics

  • The benefits are derived from personal earnings and must accumulate sufficient work credits to qualify for the benefits.
  • There is no limit on the amount of income eligible for earning SSD work credits
  • There is no resource limit
  • Medicare

Amount of Benefits

The total amount of benefits given to a family member is usually within the range of 50-100% of the benefits of the eligible worker. The specific amount each individual family member receives is dependent on the relationship and level of dependence with the main beneficiary. Factors that can be considered are such as whether the applicant is a disabled child, a minor, a young parent seeking help to raise children or a retirement age spouse. In this regard, there is a limit to the total amount that can be paid to a family member. Each individual beneficiary will receive an amount that is dependent on the benefits already received by the beneficiary, and the number of people requesting a portion of the benefits. Therefore, the largest benefits that can be given range between 50 and 80% of the total benefit amount.

To obtain a more accurate definition of the maximum benefit obtainable, the SSA developed three main rules to govern the Maximum family Benefit (MFB).

  • The MFB should be no more than 85% of the average monthly earnings of the disabled family member. Whereby monthly income refers to the average indexed income obtained from the average of the average of multiple years.
  • The amount should not be less than the primary insurance amount of the disabled family member.
  • Lastly, the maximum amount cannot be more than 150% of the primary insurance amount of the disabled family member.

Effects of family benefits on disabled worker’s Benefits

A common worry for most SSDI beneficiaries is whether their amount will be reduced when other family members seek benefits. In practice, the benefits of a beneficiary are never reduced even after family claims are approved. For instance, a divorced parent who is a beneficiary should not be objected to applications by their child for Social Security Child benefit. In the case of divorced spouses, benefits based on age and disability would not count towards the maximum family benefit while apart from when the spouse is taking care of children. The assumption is that the divorced spouse might be receiving benefits from a parents account.

If you or a loved one is experiencing problems receiving benefits or is planning to apply for such benefits, our lawyers can provide fast and easy consultation.  Fill out a simple free consultation form to get assistance.

Elia & Ponto

Supplemental Security Income benefits

The Supplemental Security Income Benefit (SSI) is mainly for low-income people. The SSA evaluates an individual’s income, their savings, other available benefits, assets and the income generated by other members of their household. Eligibility is determined by evaluating whether such revenue streams are low enough to warranty supplemental income benefits.

Eligibility for SSI is determined by considering the following;

  • The type of disability is evaluated by looking at whether it has been in existence or will extend for at least a year or is foreseen to cause death.
  • The nature and extent of the disability are also considered.
  • The inability to perform any gainful activity after the commencement of the impairment.
  • The date of commencement of the disability.

In addition to the above, the claimant must also satisfy the following general requirements;

  • First, they should reside in the United States.
  • Should be a U.S citizen or any other acknowledged non-citizens.
  • They should not be absent from the country at the time of application for a period of more than 30 consecutive days.

SSI Basics:

  • The benefits are mainly given on need basis.
  • Income for the beneficiaries must be proved to be limited.
  • The beneficiaries must also prove to have limited resources.
  • Work credits are not necessary for the evaluation.
  • Medicaid

Beneficiaries of SSI

The benefits of SSI are given according to people who meet the above thresholds. The beneficiaries can be from different categories such as;

  • Individuals aged 65 and older
  • The existence of a disability regardless of age. Includes children also
  • Blind people of any age.

SSI simply relates to the application for social security benefits. However, they have key differences. For instance, unlike Social Security Benefits, SSI is not based on prior work, they are funded by the treasury and not the SECA. SSI provides its recipients with the ability to get medical or food assistance, some states may provide supplementary payments for specific recipients. However, they share similarities such as, paying regular monthly benefits, having similar medical standards for disability,  and are administered by the SSA.

If you or a loved one is experiencing problems receiving benefits or is planning to apply for such benefits, our lawyers can provide fast and easy consultation.  Fill out a simple free consultation form to get assistance.

Elia & Ponto

Definition of “Disability”

The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides a clear-cut definition of a disability that provides guidance for the eligibility. Their definition states that a person with a disability will be unable to;

  • Perform any gainful activities substantially due to a mental or physical impairment that can be proved medically. The disability should also have lasted for a period of not less than a year and is expected to last longer with a likelihood of resulting in death.
  • Additionally, the impairment should be so severe that it hinders the individual from performing previous work activities. The inability to do work is determined after evaluating the claimant’s age, education and work experience which is specific and limited by the impairment.

Definition of Substantial Gainful Work

A definition of substantial gainful work (SGA) is referred to as any work that is available in the national economy without necessarily being in the claimant’s immediate locality, or whether there is a job vacancy available at the moment. It also does not consider whether the claimant will successfully get the job after application. The underlying factor is that there must be no existing job opportunity that can still be done by the claimants while considering their qualifications.

The SGA is the basic standard for work activity and earnings. Work is substantial if it involves coordination of either physical or mental activities or both. It can either be full-time or part-time work. The basic idea is that it must be done for profit or pay whether the earnings are realized or not. The only exception where it is not used as criteria for SSI benefits is when the claimant is blind.

You may be eligible for SSD benefits if your answer to one or more of the questions is YES.

  1. Is your mental or physical impairment so severe as to prevent participation in any type of gainful employment?
  2. Does your impairment prevent you from working at any other job apart from your previous employment?
  3. Is the disability life-threatening
  4. Has the disability lasted for or is expected to last for more than 12 months

If you or a loved one is experiencing problems receiving benefits or is planning to apply for such benefits, our lawyers can provide fast and easy consultation.  Fill out a simple free consultation form to get assistance.

Five-Step Evaluation Process

In order to be found “disabled” under Social Security Administration rules, the following five questions must be addressed:

Determination of disability under the Social Security Administration rules is done through the following five evaluation questions. The rules are followed by people making applications for disability benefits under the Supplemental Security Income benefits, disability insurance benefits, widow’s or widower’s benefits and the child insurance benefits.

  • The first step undertaken is the evaluation of work activity. The definition of SGA is used to assess disability in relation to the set threshold. When an individual is not working and their income falls below $1,970 then you can be considered as disabled.
  • The second step is to consider the medical severity of the impairments whereby the condition must be directly related to the inability to do work. If it does not hinder main skills, then an individual will not be considered to be disabled.
  • Third, the medical severity will be evaluated in terms of the extents of damage on bodily functions. There is a list of possible medical conditions outlined by the SSA that automatically qualify an individual as disabled. If the impairment of an applicant is within the list, then they are considered disabled.
  • If the medical condition is not within the acceptable list, then step four will be used to evaluate the work interference. The fourth condition will evaluate the abilities that remain after the disabling incident and compare it to past functionality. If the claimant is still able to effectively undertake previous tasks, then they will not be considered as disabled.


Last, the SSA will evaluate the ability to shift to other work types. Factors such as age, medical conditions, transferable skills, and past work experience will help determine the ability to adjust to other work. If an applicant is deemed to be able to transfer to other work forms, then the claim will be denied.

In summary, the five key steps are ;

  • Have your monthly earnings attained the threshold indicated under the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)
  • Is there an existence of a form of mental or physical impairment?
  • Is the impairment acknowledged under the SSA?
  • Is the claimant able to undertake previous work?
  • Is the claimant able to perform any other type of work?

Substantial gainful activity earning

In order to qualify for SGA, the claimant’s earnings or revenues from self-employment ventures are evaluated.

  • As of 2016, the threshold was at $1,130 per month of gross earned income. Over the years, the threshold has been on the rise increasing to $1,170 in 2017, and $1,970 per month in 2018. Blind people have separate criteria for evaluation
  • There are additional deductions that aim at reducing the amount lower than the threshold indicated by the SGA such as;
  • Sick leave and vacation pay
  • Impairment-related work expenses (IRWE)

Is claimant earning less than “Substantial Gainful Activity” (SGA)?

SGA is determined by an amount of wages or self- employment earnings:

  • In 2016: $1,130 per month of gross earned income
  • This threshold amount generally increases yearly ($1,170 in 2017)
  • $1,820 per month if the individual is blind ($1,950 in 2017)
  • There are additional tests if claimant is self-employed

There are certain deductions that reduce the amount below the SGA threshold, including:

  • Vacation and sick leave pay
  • Impairment related work expenses (IRWE)
  • Unsuccessful work attempt

Does claimant earn under the SGA threshold?

  • If no, claimant is NOT DISABLED
  • If yes, proceed to step 2

Contact us now for help with the Social Security Evaluation process.

Does the claimant have a severe impairment?

The impairment must:

  • Limit the physical ability to do work (ability to sit, stand, walk, lift, hear, see) and/or
  • Limit the mental ability to do work (ability to follow instructions, handle stress or deal  with co-workers)
  • Be shown by medically accepted clinical and/or laboratory techniques
    • have a medical diagnosis by an acceptable medical source
    • be likely to last at least 12 months or end in death

Does claimant meet the severe impairment criteria?

  • If not, claimant is NOT DISABLED
  • If yes, proceed to step 3

Contact us now for help with the Social Security Evaluation process.

Does the claimant impairment “meet or equal” an impairment listed in the Social Security “Listing of Impairments?”

  • “Meet” means having the exact criteria in a listed impairment
  • “Equal” means at least equal in severity and duration to the criteria in any listed impairment
  • Children and adults have separate listings
  • The listing of impairments is divided into major body systems
  • The listings describe impairments considered severe enough to prevent an individual from doing any gainful activity
  • Multiple impairments must be considered to determine if the combined functional effects equals the severity set forth under one of the medical listings

Does claimant meet (or equal) a pre-approved impairment?

  • If yes, claimant is approved and benefits are allowed
    • Claimant “skips” steps 4 & 5
  • If not, proceed to step 4

Contact us now for help with the Social Security Evaluation process.

Is the claimant unable to perform his/her past relevant work (PRW), considering his/her residual functional capacity (RFC)?

What is Past Relevant Work (PRW)?

  • Work performed within the past 15 years
  • Work performed at or above the SGA income threshold
  • Worked at occupation long enough to learn the job
  • Work actually done by the claimant, as well as how the work is typically performed

What is Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)?

  • Physical: maximum ability to stand, walk, sit, climb, crouch, kneel, lift, stoop, push, pull
  • Mental: memory, social functioning, persistence, concentration, and pace

Physical RFC’s are characterized according to the amount of force an individual can exert:

  • Sedentary- lifting 10 pounds occasionally, 5 pounds frequently, standing or walking no more than 2 hours out of an 8-hour day
  • Light- lifting 20 pounds occasionally, 10 pounds frequently and standing/walking on and off for up to 6 hours
  • Medium – lifting no more than 50 pounds, frequently lifting up to 25 pounds, crouching and stooping, and standing/walking on and off for up to 6 hours
  • Heavy- lifting up to 100 pounds with frequent lifting of up to 50 pounds

Disability Determination Services (DDS) of the Health and Human Services Department determines a claimants Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)

Is claimant unable to perform past relevant work?

  • If not, claimant is NOT DISABLED
  • If claimant has not worked or if his/her past work does not meet the definition of PRW, go to step 5

Contact us now for help with the Social Security Evaluation process.

Other Work

“Other work” means work that is not the claimant’s “past relevant work”.

Based on a claimant’s RFC, is claimant mentally able to perform other work in the national economy?

  • Can claimant meet the basic mental demands of unskilled work?
    • understand, remember, and carry out simple instructions
    • make appropriate work-place decisions
    • respond appropriately to co-workers, supervisors, and the public
    • deal with changes in a routine work setting

Based on claimant’s RFC, is claimant physically able to perform other work in the national economy?

  • Decision based on:
    • age
    • physical RFC based on amount of force an individual can exert
    • education
    • past relevant work

DDS uses the “Medical Vocational Guidelines” or “grids” to determine physical ability to perform work.

  • These grids do not apply if the issue is the mental ability to do other work.
  • Ability requirements are independent of:
    • if jobs are not available in claimant’s community
    • if claimant would actually be hired
    • An individual’s age can affect the process
      • Younger people are less likely to be found disabled under the grids
      • Older people are more likely to be found disabled under the grids
      • Ability to exert force is a significant factor

Is claimant unable to do substantial work in the national economy?

  • If not, claimant is not disabled
  • If yes, claimant is disabled and benefits will be allowed

This process can be very confusing and difficult.  You can always call our firm with any questions about this process.

Contact us now for help with the Social Security Evaluation process.

Elia & Ponto

Family member benefits for SSD claimants

Family members of affected persons are also entitled to apply for SSD benefits. However, the application process in Michigan is slightly different from other states. The correct path to follow is listed below.

The Application Process

There are three main methods of making a Social Security Disability benefits application

  • The first method is through a local Social Security Administration Office
  • Applying online at the official website of the SSA ( SSA.gov)
  • Or making a call to the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 while deaf individuals can reach the Social Security Administration on its TTY number at 1-800-325-0778.)

Basically, the application form obtained from the above methods is very detailed and requests quite a significant amount of information. The many requirements and strict timelines lead to multiple rejections at this stage even if they have met all the requirements. It is important to note that if you are disabled, then you are entitled to the benefits and hence, you should not be intimidated.

Elia & Ponto

Social Security Appeal Process

The strict initial application process may be tiresome for a number of people. There is a high likelihood that some applications will be rejected for one reason or another. However, the SSA provides an opportunity for people to appeal the determination of the Social Security Administration (SSA). Claimants are given 60 days (inclusive of mailing time) to write an appeal and request for an opportunity to present the claim to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The appeal window commences from the day of initial claim rejection indicated by the date on the stamp.

The main reasons for denial of an application are such as ;

The medical condition being less severe to justify the inability to work

  • Technical denials such as lacking sufficient quarters of coverage to remain insured for SSD benefits.
  • Having income levels above the threshold for qualification of SSI
  • The condition was not disabling at any time before your work credits expired (combined medical and technical denial).

The biggest concern of the appeal process is failing to make an application due to being discouraged and delaying to send an application.  If the appeal window passes, an applicant will have to start the process all over again from the beginning. The application will be made at the beginning and the claimant will have to wait for a number of months for another decision. Therefore, having a clear understanding of the necessary timelines and procedures is essential.

The appeal process can be divided into four distinct categories. The first step is known as the reconsideration and involves the panel reviewing the original claim. The second stage is the hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. Once rejected again, an applicant may choose to appeal to the Appeals Council of the SSA and if not successful the claim can be made in a federal court of law.


After a claimant’s application has been denied, many states usually head to the reconsideration stage before the appeal stage. In Michigan, the reconsideration stage is overlooked and claimants are expected to make appeals within the stipulated timelines. Therefore, if you live in Michigan and your initial appeal is denied, you should save time by heading directly to the appeal stage.


In Michigan, a denial of an initial claim is to be followed by an appeal made before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Applicants are expected to file their appeal within 60 days from the date of denial. Once the appeal process has commenced and an appeal is received, the average time to wait for the actual hearing is between 12 and 18 months though it can also take longer.

The disability hearings are mainly short usually around 15minutes long. The specifics of what occurs are largely dependent on the complexity of the actual case. Therefore, it may involve personal submissions, witness testimonies, or the testimonies of professionals such as medical experts. The claimant will be expected to show evidence of why their claim should be accepted. After assessing the evidence, the judge will write a decision and send it to the claimant.

Appeals Council

Even after application through the Administrative Law Judge, a claimant has 60 days to appeal with the Appeals Council. The council’s main task is to appeal the decision of the judge and make amendments if necessary. Technically, the appeals court can either revoke or grant benefits for that were denied by the ALJ.

Federal District Court

The federal district court is the last option pursued by a small percentage of the applicants. In most cases, the claimants are already disheartened by the time they reach this stage. However, if an individual truly believes they were not given a fair hearing, they are still allowed to pursue other legal options. Similarly, the appeal request must also be filed within 60 days of receiving the decision from the Appeals court. The actual process may be confusing for most people hence, it is necessary that they employ the services of a lawyer to help with the documentation. An experienced lawyer will also be able to make an oral argument to support your claims. Therefore, If you or a loved one was denied Social Security Benefits or plans to apply for benefits we can help.

Elia & Ponto

Frequently Asked Questions

If I appeal, do I have a chance to win my Social Security Disability claim?


The Social Security Administration often denies Social Security Disability applications at first and then approves benefits on appeal.

There are a number of reasons that demand for a second appeal process to benefit from SSD. There is a high likelihood that an individual’s first application left out essential medical information that failed to list the medical condition limitations. At times, medical information is limited but the physical effects of the medical condition can be easily visible.

In these cases, an experienced attorney can carefully review your medical records and collect other important evidence, to convince the SSA to reconsider and approve your benefits.

The importance of experience when filing such benefits is indispensable. An experienced lawyer will provide help throughout the application process and help get the deserved benefits.  To get the help of a qualified and experienced lawyer, submit a simple, free consultation form now for help.

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