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How to appeal a denial of SSDI benefits

If you have an injury or illness that makes working virtually impossible, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). This program only provides financial assistance to individuals who have a sufficient number of work credits, however.

Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies more than 60% of initial applications for SSDI benefits. You should not let an initial denial discourage you, though, as you may still be able to obtain the benefits you deserve through the appeals process.

Appeal filing deadline

Most people only have 60 days to file a written notice with the SSA to appeal a denial of disability insurance. To avoid losing your right to appeal the decision, you must meet this deadline.

Reconsideration of your application

The first stage of an SSDI appeal is often reconsideration. During this phase, an adjudicator who did not play a role in the first review of your application will perform a second, thorough review of the details. When doing so, the adjudicator evaluates your original submission, plus any new evidence or details you provide.

Appeals hearing

If you have little or no luck with a reconsideration request, you may then ask for a hearing before an administrative law judge. Before your hearing, you have the option to submit additional documentation about your disability and other relevant matters. You also may have to testify at the hearing, which you should plan to attend.

Final options

After careful review, the administrative law judge may still deny your appeal. You may then ask the Social Security Appeals Council to review the judge’s denial. If the Appeals Council refuses to the review or also rules against you, then you may take your appeal to federal court.

Often, individuals who receive initial SSDI denials can still receive benefits without appealing to either the Appeals Council or the federal court. Still, knowing you have many backup options at your disposal will hopefully put your mind at ease following an initial denial of your application.

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