If you have a disabling condition and you cannot work, getting a Social Security disability benefits claim approved can make a huge difference in your life. Unfortunately, more than 50 percent of claims get denied, and only about 28 percent of claims are approved after the initial filing. These numbers indicate there is a good chance that your claim might be denied upfront, though this does not mean you should give up right away.
There are options for Social Security disability claimants to appeal denials, though many people fail to do so. Too many disabled individuals do not believe they have options or think that a denial is the final word on the matter. If you received a denial letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA), you should contact an SSDI attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options for what to do next.
In most cases, you only have 60 days following a denial during which to begin the appeal process. You must request an appeal during this window, or you might lose your chance to appeal your claim at all. This is not the time to delay in seeking legal assistance. Following a denial letter, many claimants make mistakes that cost them benefits, such as:
- Giving up without requesting an appeal
- Requesting an appeal too late
- Filing a new claim with different information
All of the above can cause you to lose your rights to appeal.
Reconsideration of Your Claim
The first level of appealing an SSDI denial is to request reconsideration by the SSA. Someone who was not the original decision-maker will review your file, including both the evidence you submitted originally and any new evidence you have. An experienced disability lawyer can review why your claim was denied and identify additional documentation and evidence that will work to support your claim.
There are different reasons why your claim might have been denied, including:
- Your claim was incomplete
- You did not comply with special exams requested
- Insufficient medical evidence of your disability
- You earn too much income
- You are not following your recommended treatment and therapy plans
- The SSA believes you can still work
- The SSA claims that substance abuse contributed to your disability
- Your injury happened while committing a crime or while in prison
- You filed a new claim after a previous denial instead of following the appeal process
In many cases, denials can be prevented by seeking help from an SSDI attorney from the start of the claim process. However, if you already received a denial, it is not too late to seek legal help with an appeal.
Additional Steps of the Appeal Process
If your claim remains denied after reconsideration, the right lawyer can help with the rest of the appeals process which can include:
- A hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ)
- Review by the Appeals Council
- Review by the federal court
It is critical to have the help you need after a denial, so you have the best chance of gaining benefits on appeal.