Securing Social Security Disability Insurance benefits can be a complex journey. If the U.S. Social Security Administration denies your application, you need to understand the steps involved in the appeals process.
Each stage serves as an opportunity to present additional evidence and arguments to support your claim.
1. Request for reconsideration
Upon receiving a denial of your initial SSDI application, the first step in the appeals process is to request reconsideration. This involves a complete review of your case by a different examiner who was not involved in the initial decision. Be sure to provide any new medical evidence or documentation that may strengthen your claim.
2. Administrative law judge hearing
If your request for reconsideration is unsuccessful, the next step involves requesting a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. During this hearing, you or your representative have the opportunity to present your case in person. Make sure to provide any updated medical records, witness testimonies or additional information that supports your disability claim.
3. Appeals council review
If the ALJ denies your claim, the next step is seeking a review from the Social Security Appeals Council. The council will examine your case and reconsider the initial decision. The council may either uphold the decision, remand the case for further review or reverse the decision in your favor.
4. Federal court review
Should the Appeals Council uphold the denial, the final step is to file a lawsuit in federal court. This involves submitting a complaint detailing the reasons you believe the denial was unjust. The court will review the entire case and determine whether to overturn the denial, leading to the approval of your SSDI benefits.
Try not to lose hope if the SSA denies your initial claim for benefits. The SSA notes that while only about a fifth of all applicants have their original applications approved, many find success after filing appeals.