Applicants whose Social Security Disability claims are denied may continue to seek benefits through the appeals process. People who suffer from a long-term or permanent disability that prevents them from working often rely on SSDI benefits to help them make ends meet. Unfortunately, about 70% of initial applications are denied. Although appealing at the ALJ level gives applicants the best chance of winning SSDI benefits, many people give up hope. Only about 50% of denied applicants go on to appeal.
Appealing a Disability Denial
When an initial application for disability is denied, claimants who wish to proceed with their claims must file an appeal within 60 days of receiving their initial determination notices. The SSA assumes that people receive these notices within five days of the sent date.
Should people fail to submit their requests within the allotted time, their cases may be dismissed, and they may lose the right to any further review. In some cases, with good reason, the SSA may see fit to grant filing extensions. If appeals deadline are missed and no filing extension is granted, claimants must reapply for benefits, starting the process from the beginning.
The Disability Appeals Process
At the first level of appeal, claimants file a request for reconsideration. The SSA will reconsider the claim, reviewing all evidence provided in the initial application and any new evidence. An agency representative who was not involved in making the original decision conducts the reconsideration review.
Should applicants disagree with appellate determinations, they may continue to pursue disability benefits through the other three levels of appeal. Claimants can request hearings by administrative law judges to question reconsideration determinations. It is at this level that two-thirds of applicants are approved. If the ALJ hearing results in an unfavorable decision, applicants may request an Appeals Council review. However, the council may deny the request for review. If the Appeal Council review is denied or claimants disagree with the council’s determination, they may take the matter to a federal district court.
Providing Proof of Disability
Including complete and accurate information is essential to helping the SSA make determinations on claims for disability benefits. In addition to the required personal and medical information, claimants should provide supporting documents such as laboratory or imaging reports, procedure or office visit notes, and other medical records.