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Claiming Social Security Benefits

Individuals earn Social Security credits by working and paying Social Security taxes. Several factors determine eligibility for Social Security benefits, including how many years you have worked, whether you were employed in a Social Security covered job, and your current age. Unfortunately, Social Security claims are often denied. While individuals are entitled to appeal a denied Social Security benefit claim, many people are hesitant to do so. If you live in Colorado, an experienced Colorado Social Security lawyer can help you submit a Social Security benefit claim or appeal a denied claim.

Eligibility for Social Security Benefits

Before you apply for Social Security benefits, it is important to make sure you qualify. The two basic types of Social Security Benefits are:

Retirement Benefits - Individuals may receive Social Security retirement benefits after the age of 62, assuming they have worked a sufficient number of years and have earned enough Social Security credits. Benefits may be higher for individuals who wait until a later age to retire.
Disability Benefits - Individuals of any age who are unable to work for a year or more due to a qualified mental or physical disability may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits.

The spouse, minor children, or disabled children of a retired, deceased, or disabled worker are also entitled to receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits if certain criteria are met.

Denied Social Security Claims

Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies a large number of initial Social Security benefit claims, particularly disability claims. There are numerous reasons why Social Security disability claims are denied. Some common reasons include mental or physical impairments that do not meet the SSA’s disability qualifications and failure to follow prescribed treatment or therapy. Social Security benefits can also be denied in certain situations if an individual has a criminal record or a disability caused by drug or alcohol use.

Appealing a Denied Social Security Claim

The Social Security Administration is not immune to mistakes. If you meet eligibility requirements for Social Security benefits, yet your claim is denied, you can request an appeal. However, it is imperative to submit your appeal within the 60-day time limit. The four levels of Social Security appeal are:

Reconsideration - This is the first level of appeal. Reconsideration is a complete review of your case by someone at the Social Security office who did not review your initial claim.
Hearing - The second appeal level is to request a hearing by an administrative law judge who was not involved with your initial application or reconsideration.
Appeals Council Review - The third level of appeal is a review of your case by the Social Security Appeals Council. In some situations, the Appeals Council can deny your request for a review.
Federal Court - The final level of Social Security appeal is to file a lawsuit in a federal court. This is an option for individuals who were not satisfied with the Appeals Council decision or were denied a review by the Appeals Council.
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