If you have received a denial of your initial application for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits, you are far from alone. In fact, government statistics show the Social Security Administration denies as many as two thirds of first-time benefits applications.
While it can be both frustrating and scary to open a benefits denial, you may be able to appeal the decision through four hierarchical levels.
The easiest and most common way to appeal an SSDI benefits denial is to request reconsideration. When you do this, a different adjudicator reviews your file and determines your eligibility. You may also have an opportunity to submit supplemental evidence.
2. An administrative law judge
If your request for reconsideration does not end favorably, you can ask an administrative law judge within the SSA to hear the matter. Before your hearing, which you probably must attend to offer testimony, you can usually provide new information that supports your request for SSDI benefits.
3. The SSA Appeals Council
The SSA Appeals Council considers whether the administrative law judge made a mistake when denying your SSDI benefits application. If the Appeals Council finds in your favor, it may send your application back to the administrative law judge or to an officer for additional review or approval.
4. Federal court
If you cannot convince an adjudicator, an administrative law judge or the Appeals Council to approve your SSDI benefits, you can take your case to federal court. Whether you decide to appeal that far probably depends on a variety of factors.
Nevertheless, in your effort to win approve of SSDI benefits, you have a legal right to try all available appeals.