[00:00:01 Visual: A graphic of a building entitled “Social Security” and a flagpole with an American flag slide into view.]
Narrator: The Social Security Administration offers two benefit programs for people with disabilities: Social Security Disability Insurance (or SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (or SSI).
[00:00:07 “Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)” and “Supplemental Security Income (SSI)” appear on either side of the building. The graphic slides away. An application form slides in, and a stamp marks it with a large x. A person in a blue t-shirt pops up, scratching their head.]
Many people who apply are denied at first, but you may be able to get benefits through the appeal process.
[00:00:22 The denied application sinks away and a piece of paper entitled “appeal” pops up. A dotted line draws a rectangle away from and leading back to the appeal. A green check mark appears. The appeal sinks away, and is replaced with a webpage reading “vtlawhelp.org.”]
This video and the detailed Roadmap on our website will help you with two situations:
[00:00:30 The webpage sinks away and the main character appears again at the center, holding an application. A red x appears on the application. A speech bubble shows an envelope marked “appeal” and a small bubble on it reads “1st.”]
- Either you applied for SSI or SSDI benefits and were denied — and this is the first time you are appealing the decision.
[00:00:38 The speech bubble shrinks away and another person appears in an orange shirt and holds out a check. A red x appears on it. A speech bubble pops up with the same appeal envelope and the “1st” bubble.]
- You were receiving SSI or SSDI benefits and Social Security stopped paying because they say you aren’t disabled anymore — and this is the first time you are appealing the decision. This is called a “medical cessation”.
[00:00:56 “Medical cessation” appears at the bottom of the screen. The image slides away, and the following title types out:]
Step 1: Know your rights
[00:01:00 A line sweeps the title away and the main character reemerges. Beside them, a letter marked “notice” pops up.]
Almost every decision Social Security makes about you is sent in a letter called a “notice”. You have the right to appeal if you disagree with their decision.
[00:01:08 Between the notice and the person, an envelope labeled “appeal” pops up. All but the notice slides away, and a stamp marks the notice with a red x. A calendar drops in and sheets tear away, landing on a page reading “60 days.”]
If you get a notice saying you do not qualify for SSI or SSDI, you have 60 days from the date printed on the top of the notice to submit forms telling them you disagree.
[00:01:24 An appeal pops in beside the notice. The group slides away. The person in orange pops up with a check that has a red x. A calendar drops in and sheets tear away, landing on a page reading “60 days” and an appeal envelope slides in beside the person.]
If you were already getting SSI or SSDI benefits, you have 60 days to appeal. But if you want to keep getting benefits while Social Security reviews your appeal, you must submit the forms within 10 days of the date printed on the top of the notice.
[00:01:40 The calendar peels a page away, the new one reading “10 days.” The group slides away, and graphics of purple rectangles with dots and dashes stack on top of each other, linked by a darker line. A title below reads “the appeal process.” The top rectangle’s dash resolves into the word “reconsideration.”]
The appeal process has several levels. The first one is called “Reconsideration”, where the agency looks at your case again. This video and Roadmap describe what to do for a Reconsideration appeal. If you lose at Reconsideration, you can still move on to the next level of appeal.
[00:01:52 A magnifying glass runs over an application. They slide away, and the rectangle reading “reconsideration” turns red. The graphic slides away and the main character pops up, wiping their brow.]
Appeals are difficult, but you can get help. You have the right:
[00:02:12 A title below the person reads “your rights”. With each right, a bubble graphic pops up: two hands reaching out to each other, speech bubbles in different languages, and a person with a ponytail.]
- to “reasonable accommodations” if your medical conditions mean you need help with your appeal;
- to communicate with Social Security in your own language; and
- to choose someone to advocate for you. They can be a lawyer, paralegal, friend, or family member.
[00:02:30 The image sinks away and two lawyers with briefcases pop up. As the narrator lists, bubble graphics pop up: denied applications, the main character wiping their brow, and a check with an x in it.]
Many private lawyers will take on Social Security denial cases. You should speak with a lawyer if:
- you have already been denied SSI or SSDI benefits;
- you have trouble understanding what Social Security is telling you; or
- you already had SSI or SSDI, but Social Security stopped it or started taking money back.
If you are in any of these situations, contact Legal Services Vermont for advice or a referral for more help.
[00:02:58 The group slides away and a web page with the URL “vtlawhelp.org” pops up with a phone that reads “1-800-889-2047.” A title below reads “Legal Services Vermont.” The group slides away, and the following title appears:]
Step 2: Read the notice and gather evidence
[00:03:11 A line sweeps the title away and a notice from Social Security pops up. Beside it, bubble graphics illustrate as the narrator lists.]
The notice from Social Security should tell you:
- the date of the decision;
- the medical providers Social Security talked to, and the medical evidence they looked at;
- whether Social Security thinks you have medical impairments;
- how much work Social Security thinks you can do; and
- if Social Security thinks there is another job you can do even with your impairments.
[00:03:34 The group slides away, and a manilla envelope labeled “evidence” pops up. Beside it, a doctor pops up, with a piece of paper titled “medical conditions.”]
Once you understand the decision, you can start gathering evidence for your appeal. Your doctor is your best source of medical evidence. Ask them to write a letter explaining why your medical conditions keep you from working. It’s ok to send in evidence after you have submitted your appeal forms.
[00:03:54 An appeal envelope pops up above the evidence envelope. The group slides away, and the following title appears:]
Step 3: Fill out the appeal forms
[00:04:02 A line sweeps the title away and a calendar pops up, tearing pages away until it lands on one reading “60 days.”]
Remember: You have 60 days from the date printed on the top of your notice to submit your appeal.
[00:04:08 The calendar sinks away and is replaced with a web page titled “vtlawhelp.org.” An arrow clicks on it, and an online Disability Appeal form appears on the page. Beside it, a paper form appears called a Request for Reconsideration.]
The Roadmap on our website has links to the forms you need. You can fill them out on the Social Security website, or on paper.
[00:04:16 the group falls away, revealing a form titled “Disability Report.” The main character fills out a form beside it.]
The “Disability Report” section can take a while to fill out. This is where Social Security asks about your medical conditions and treatments, and how they affect your daily life.
[00:04:29 The disability report sinks away and is replaced with an envelope marked “evidence.” Pieces of paper pop up behind it.]
You’ll probably have supporting documents for your appeal, such as letters from your doctor or evidence of when you stopped working. Make copies of these to submit with your appeal forms. Don’t send the original documents.
[00:04:37 The envelope sinks away, and the evidence papers multiply, two pieces being labeled “copy”. The originals sink away. An advocate pops up as the copies sink away.]
If you want someone else to speak to Social Security for you, fill out and include an Appointment of Representative form with your appeal.
[00:04:48 A form titled “Appointment of Representative” pops up between the main character and the advocate. The group slides away. Icons representing the various delivery methods pop up as they are mentioned.]
Submit your appeal online, by mail, by fax, or in person. The Vermont Social Security offices are in Burlington, Montpelier, and Rutland. Be sure to call your office and confirm they got your appeal.
[00:05:00 All icons except the “in person” icon fall away as a map of Vermont appears. Location markers fall as cities are mentioned. The icon disappears and a Social Security office with a phone ringing above it slides in.]
And, whenever you file a document with the Social Security Administration, keep a copy for yourself. Write down when and where you gave it to Social Security.
[00:05:08 The phone switches out for an appeal envelope. The envelope multiplies to reveal a “copy”. A pen pops up. The graphic slides away. A graphic of a video player pops up.]
Be sure to watch our video on steps 4 to 6 of this process; review the detailed Roadmap on our website; and contact us if you have questions.
[00:05:25 The video player switches out for vtlawhelp.org, showing the six steps for this Social Security Appeal Roadmap. An end-screen with a green logo reads “Legal Services Vermont: Working Together for Justice. 1-800-889-2047, vtlawhelp.org.”]
End of transcript.