Applying for SSI – Part 4: Request for Reconsideration
It’s been months since I last blogged about applying for SSI. Not the most gripping subject matter, but if the young person is unlikely to be able to support himself or herself due to mental health challenges, it is really, really important subject matter. So from here on I’ll try not to drag this topic out quite so much, especially because there are other financial topics to address once we’ve gotten through this.
Request for reconsideration is what you do if your initial SSI application is denied. You may recall from previous posts that people who are young are more likely to be denied benefits, as are people with mental (as opposed to physical) challenges. Since we are talking about young people with mental health challenges, being denied is a very good possibility.
You have 60 days after receiving word of the application’s denial to file for reconsideration. During reconsideration, a different claims examiner reviews your initial application, plus any new supporting evidence you or other people can provide.
I like how the following link explains the realities of this phase of the application process: appealing an SSI benefits denial.
You’ll need to know what the Social Security Administration wants you to do to request reconsideration, so here’s the link for that: http://www.ssa.gov/online/ssa-561.html. This information will also be in the letter you receive from SSA.
As you can see, there are a few more lovely forms to fill out. Mainly, the forms ask you to state why you disagree with the decision, and they want updates to the claimant’s condition since the initial application: doctor’s visits, hospitalizations, new medications, etc. You of course would want to document things that indicate the claimant has gotten worse or at least has not improved.
In Nathan’s case, I was tweaked because the initial application was denied before SSA had heard from his current psychiatrist (whom we’ll call “Dr. W”). Before submitting the request for reconsideration forms, I called SSA and pointed this out. The person I spoke to said I could state on the reconsideration forms that I didn’t want a decision to be made without the input of Dr. W. All right, so this time we’d have a better shot at being approved, right?
I’ll bet you saw this coming: a little over two months after filing the reconsideration paperwork, we received a letter from SSA saying that the first decision was correct, and Nathan still was not eligible for SSI. The letter listed supporting evidence they had received in the interim. Was Dr. W on that list? No he was not. My statement about needing Dr. W’s input had been ignored, or it was trumped by SSA’s determination to move things along. I hadn’t been informed of the timeline for making the reconsideration decision, nor was I informed that Dr. W still hadn’t supplied any input. I probably should have called SSA to find out after about a month had passed.
But it didn’t really matter too much, since very few requests for reconsideration end up with a reversal of the initial decision. It was time to advance to the next step: I had 60 days to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. What happened with that hearing will be the subject for one or more future blog posts.