What Are My Options if I Have Been Denied Social Security Disability?


Disability benefits can be a lifesaver for many people. The process of qualifying is complicated, as it is not exactly dependent on whether you objectively live with a disability or not, but on your ability to earn a certain income. This often means that living without such financial support means subsisting on a very tight budget, one that may not provide you with everything you need. If you have been denied approval for social security disability benefits, you still have several top options for your benefits appeal that can help in your favor.

What to Know About Requesting Reconsideration

The first thing you must realize about applying for disability assistance is that it is quite normal for an application to be denied on the first try. (Estimates have shown that approximately 70% of initial claims for disability are denied upon the first submission.) The authority that is assigned the responsibility of denial or approval is your state’s Disability Determination Services (DDS) agency. Unfortunately, the process of finding out whether you’ve been approved or denied is relatively slow as well.

Usually, applicants must wait several months to receive an official denial letter. This letter will outline the reasoning for denial – for instance, if it was based on medical records or other personal documentation submitted with the application. If you believe that this decision was wrong or misinformed, you can request a reconsideration from the DDS within sixty days of the receipt of the letter. (The denial letter will outline the instructions necessary for requesting reconsideration.) You can submit your request in person at a Social Security field office or in writing, with the help of your disability attorney.

Reconsideration is not guaranteed to work, however. In fact, only a very small number of claims (less than 10%) that make it to reconsideration are awarded benefits after this phase. Note also that this phase takes approximately 2-3 months after the first denial. Denial after this phase requires a 60-day waiting period before another attempt at having your claim reviewed once more.

Alternatives to Reconsideration

If you receive a denial of the reconsideration request, your next step is to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Interestingly, your chances of success for approval of a disability claim are markedly higher at this level when compared to the reconsideration phase. Approximately 40% of claims that reach this level are awarded benefits. Once again, though, if you are denied by the ALJ, you must endure another 60-day waiting period before requesting the Appeals Council to review the decision for errors or other discrepancies.

A denial following the review of the Appeals Council will then require you to take your case to the federal level. (Of course, once again, this will follow another 60-day waiting period.) Specifically, you should seek a review from the U.S. Federal District Court by finding a court within your local area. This phase requires much more patience than the others, as it can take anywhere between six months to two years.

When you’re applying for disability benefits, ensure that all documentation used in the application is as clear and informative as possible to avoid accidental denials and prolonged financial support. Get the help of an experienced lawyer to assist you throughout each phase of applying.

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