Michigan reinstated reconsideration in October of this year, the first step in the Social Security disability appeal process. Reconsideration has been an important step in the appeal of disability benefits. Nonetheless, 10 states, including Michigan, eliminated the reconsideration step in 1999 to explore ways to reengineer the disability process.
According to Social Security’s website, “reconsideration involves a thorough, independent review of all evidence from the initial determination and any new evidence the claimant or another individual submits in connection with the request for reconsideration. “ Social Security believes that reconsideration provides for earlier decisions about allowance. It also believes that taxpayers save money in administrative costs when the claim goes to reconsideration rather than to an Administrative Law Judge. Claimants still have a right to appeal a denial of their claims before an administrative law judge.
What is the Reconsideration Step?
After a person files a claim for Social Security disability, the Social Security office reviews the application. It then goes to the Disability Determination Services (DDS) or state agency who will then make a decision as to the client’s application. Next, the state agency will mail the claimant a letter explaining whether it has denied or accepted the claim. If the claimant does not agree with the denial of his/her claim, the claimant can appeal it. Reconsideration is the first level of appeal. During a reconsideration, the state agency will conduct a complete review of the claim. It will also consider any new evidence submitted by the applicant.
How Will This Change affect Social Security Disability Applications?
The reconsideration process usually adds three to six months in processing time to a claim. By reinstating the reconsideration phase in the Michigan, expect increased delays due to an even more prolonged disability process. There is an extremely small approval rating for claimants at the reconsideration phase. At the same time, the added appeal level can be an opportunity for claimants denied at the initial level to skip the lengthy wait for a hearing.
Ideally, reconsideration involves a thorough reexamination of all evidence on record. The person reviewing the case will make the reconsideration determination based on all evidence used in the initial determination and any additional evidence or information submitted with the appeal. In other words, reconsideration is a “case review” or a paper-record review not involving a personal appearance or an opportunity to present witnesses. Only time will tell if reconsideration will have a positive effect on the disability application process. Seeking the help of an experienced attorney during the reconsideration process can be beneficial.