Understanding the disability appeals process

| Apr 15, 2020 | Social Security Disability |

Countless Americans apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) every year. Sadly, the majority of applicants get rejected. Whether it’s due to income qualifications or missing information on their forms, receiving a denial notice can be devastating. That’s especially the case for those who need it most.

Luckily, whether it was for medical or nonmedical reasons, there are steps applicants can take to appeal their rejection.

Jumping through the hoops

While all applicants may feel their reasons for receiving SSDI are valid, getting the administration to appeal a denial can be a long and sometimes strenuous process. Here are the steps most applicants have to take:

  • Reconsideration (Step 1): Reconsideration is when an SSA worker who didn’t make decisions in the applicant’s first claim reevaluates their condition. In many cases, the worker will reexamine, compare and contrast evidence from the old case with new evidence given by the applicant.
  • Administrative hearing (Step 2): If reconsideration fails, applicants can try to take their claim to a hearing. If this happens, a judge may decide to reevaluate the applicant’s case where they will question them and ask to bring in witnesses.
  • Review by an appeals council (Step 3): Unfortunately, the judge doesn’t always rule in an applicant’s favor. If that’s the case, claimants may want to bring their case to an appeals council. However, if the council believes previous reviews were accurate, they may toss out the applicant’s case. If they do decide to reevaluate a person’s claim, the council can either do it themselves or send it to an administrative judge.
  • Proceed with litigation (Step 4): While this is often a last resort, applicants can file a lawsuit in a federal district court if they’re not satisfied with their previous results.

Receiving a rejection notice for disability benefits can be devastating for applicants and their families, as their condition may prevent them from working and living a healthy life. Luckily, they can make a better case for themselves with a trusted legal partner.