Reconsiderations are a review of your previous application to make sure the decision was made correctly. Some states have reconsiderations, and some states skip this step and go straight to hearing appeals.
The Trick to Winning a Reconsideration
Here’s the trick: If you wish to win a reconsideration, you must give them something to “reconsider”. If you simply fill out and return the reconsideration form, you almost certainly will get a quick rubber-stamp denial.
Only 7% of reconsiderations are approved. However, almost no one makes an effort during reconsiderations. You can set yourself apart by being one of the few people on this planet to actually make an effort at this stage.
What Can I Do To Help My Chances?
Glad you asked. Any of these things can make a big difference in a reconsideration case.
- Wait. Instead of sending the form back right away, you can chose to wait until you have some good new materials to send with it. If you send just the form, it may get a quick rubber stamp denial and be over before you know. Just be very very sure not to miss the deadline.
- Get a Function Form. If you have not yet sent in an rfc function form, or if your function form is from more than six months ago, now would be a great time to send one.
- Get a CD. You can request your case file on CD. You can contact Social Security and ask them to send you a copy of your case file on CD. That will have everything in it and you can check for yourself what is and isn’t in there. You may have to ask a few different people a few different times.
- Check Records. Check to see if any important records were missing when they made their decision. Missing records are shockingly common!!!
- Collect Records. If any records are missing or not recent, you can collect these records yourself and send them in with your reconsideration. Make sure you get full records and no secret records are left out.
- Get New Evidence. There may not be time to get new evidence at this point. But if you are able to do so, go for it! Examples of new evidence for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome might be: A psychological assessment, a neurological assessment, a tilt table test, an exercise stress test, a function test, relevant new lab tests, an abnormal MRI, a sleep study, or an Fibromyalgia exam from a rheumatologist.
- If You Can’t Collect Records. If you are unable to collect the records yourself, you can enclose a brief letter stating something like this: “Thank you for taking the time to review and reconsider my case. I have discovered that some records may be missing from my file. I believe these records are important to my case, and I would greatly appreciate your help in collecting and reviewing these records: Doctor’s name, dates, mail, phone, fax, or name of specific lab and test”
- Look for Mistakes. If you notice any mistakes in your file, you can send a brief, polite note requesting a correction. Please make sure they are real mistakes. Examples of real mistakes: There was an important typo, they put someone else’s medical records in your file, or they misquoted your records. If you simply disagree with what they are saying, that is not a mistake, it is a disagreement. Don’t get into disagreements with social security. Let your lawyer do that at a hearing.
Reconsideration decisions happen very quickly. If you already sent in your reconsideration request form, it may be too late to send more stuff, but you can still try.
If possible, it is very helpful if you can send in your new records and documents enclosed with your reconsideration request form. This will give you the greatest chance of your new materials arriving in time to be fully considered. It also means your application will be easier to review with less chances of something getting separated, lost, or misplaced.
If you are wondering what is going to happen when, take a look at this Typical Timeline for a Social Security Application.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
Some people hire lawyers or representatives at this stage, and some people wait until the hearing appeal stage. The choice is yours.
Most people report that lawyers do little or nothing to improve their case during the reconsideration stage. However, it certainly won’t hurt to have one, and if your case continues on to a hearing, you will probably hire a lawyer anyway. You can hire a lawyer or you can hire a “non-lawyer representative.” They are equally good. They will not charge you anything unless you win.
Whatever You Do
Whatever you do, just make sure you don’t miss the deadline for your reconsideration request form. Sixty days in their hands.
Think of it as 55 days. If possible, you may wish to hand deliver it and get a stamped receipt.