You are allowed to file a lawsuit in Federal Court on your Social Security disability claim, but only if you exhaust all of your appeals with the Agency first. Each time Social Security denies you, you have to appeal within the 60 day deadline to get up to the next level. In the end, if they keep on denying you, you'll get a total of 4 decisions - the initial decision, the reconsideration decision, the hearing decision, and finally a decision from the Appeals Council. If you want to sue Social Security, you have to do it within 60 days after you get the Appeals Council's decision.
I would recommend that anyone who wants to appeal their claim beyond the first two decisions (initial and reconsideration) should definitely hire an attorney. You can hire a non-attorney to represent you at your hearing, but they can't take your case to federal court later, if you're denied.
Many people are denied initially and on reconsideration (2nd step, 1st appeal) who are eventually found disabled after a hearing of their case by an administrative law judge. I'm sorry to hear that you're among that large group of disabled people whose claims have been denied initially and on reconsideration.
As already suggested, it's a good idea: (1) appeal again, or from what you have said, request a hearing before an administrative law judge within the 60 day time limit and (2) look for an attorney. Most attorneys will represent someone on his/her Social Security disability case on a contingency fee basis or you do not pay the attorney a fee for his/her services unless you are awarded benefits. It would be wise to look for an attorney with experience representing people before Social Security (or in Social Security disability law), you can do so by (a) looking in the paper or online yellow pages in your area for an attorney listed under that specialty, (b) asking for a referral from your local/regional Legal Aid office; (3) calling NOSSCR (National Organization for Social Security Claimants' Representatives and asking for a referral at 1800431-2804. You can also go to the NOSSCR website, some attorneys list their websites on a page of the NOSSCR website. (c) look for an attorney online, many Social Security disability attorneys have websites.
It's important not to miss the filing deadline for an appeal, you can always file an appeal on your own to make sure you don't miss the 60 day deadline & then look for an attorney. If you miss the deadline, you may have to file a new claim, and if you do, you may lose all the potential retroactive benefits from your former/earlier claim or even be barred from filing for one type of disability benefit.
The problem of how to survive until you get your benefits (when you cannot work) is an all too common and very serious difficulty. All I can suggest is that you look into what types of assistance or benefits your state, VA, may offer to people who are disabled and/or unemployed, in addition to assistance like food stamps, etc.
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My colleagues have provided you with sound advice, please heed their words and Never Give Up!
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