It wasn’t easy to put your Social Security Disability (SSD) application in, but you’ve reached the point where you really can’t keep working — and you had your doctor’s support.
That’s why it was such a shock to get a letter in the mail telling you that the Social Security Administration (SSA) denied your claim. What now?
You have 60 days to file an appeal
You have appeal rights, but you need to exercise them in writing within 60 days of the date on your denial letter — otherwise, you have to go back to the very first step and start again.
The appeals process on a denied SSD claim follows this pattern:
- A reconsideration: This is the first step in the process and works very much like an initial claim. Once you file, you will submit any additional information you have about your condition or new medical information to SSA. Your file will be sent back to the state’s Disability Determination Services where it will be given a second look by a new team of disability examiners.
- A hearing: If your reconsideration is also denied, you can request a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). There’s usually a lengthy wait to actually get a hearing, but you can directly interact with someone who has the power to approve your claim and plead your case.
- An Appeals Council review: If you believe that there were errors in the judge’s decision that relate to Social Security law or regulations, you may be able to get the Appeals Council to review your claim. They have the power to either overturn the denial or remand the case back to the ALJ.
Finally, you can ask for a federal court review if you disagree with what the Appeals Council says (or they refuse to hear the case). While this is unusual, a federal case can have major consequences for both individual claimants and others in the same situation.
Most Social Security Disability claims that are eventually successful are approved on appeal either at the reconsideration or hearing level. An attorney can help you overcome the challenges in your case and make approval more likely.