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How to appeal an SSDI determination

If you are out of work for at least a year because of a disabling illness or injury, you may qualify for Social Security disability insurance. If the Social Security Administration denies your application for SSDI, you have the right to appeal this decision.

Educate yourself on the various appeal phases for SSDI denial.

Phase one: Reconsideration

Both medical and nonmedical denials qualify for an online reconsideration request. You must start the process on the SSA website within 60 days of receiving your initial decision letter. When your application is under reconsideration, you can submit new evidence to support the relevant medical and financial information in your case. An investigator who was not part of the initial review for your application will complete the new review.

Phase two: Hearing request

When the reconsideration also receives a denial, you can ask that an SSA administrative law judge review your case. The subsequent hearing will take place within 75 miles of where you live. At the hearing, you can present new or existing evidence to support your case, with or without representation by an attorney.

Phase three: Appeals Council review

If the administrative law judge rejects your appeal, you can request further review from the Appeals Council. However, the Council can refuse to hear your appeal if they find that the judge followed federal SSDI laws in his or her decision.

Phase four: Civil lawsuit

When the Appeals Council declines to hear your case or denies you for benefits, you have the right to appeal your case in federal district court. The judge in this case will make the final, legally binding decision. You must file this type of appeal within 60 days of receiving the Appeal Council denial.

Providing comprehensive medical and financial information improves the chances of receiving approval for SSDI benefits. Submitting records from recent doctor and specialist visits along with a detailed work history helps to support your case.