Pursuing Social Security disability benefits can be frustrating and complicated. After going through the steps of collecting medical records, submitting paperwork and waiting for a decision, learning that the Social Security Administration has denied your claim can be enormously upsetting.
However, if you are in this situation, know that you can appeal a denied claim. Below, we explain more about what this process entails.
The appeals process
There are four levels in appealing an SSDI denial. These levels include:
- Reconsideration: This is the first level. During reconsideration, a different agent will review your claim and any new evidence you may have. You can request reconsideration for claims denied for medical and non-medical reasons.
- An administrative judge hearing: If reconsideration does not deliver the desired outcome, you can request a hearing with an administrative law judge who will examine all the evidence. At the hearing, the judge may question you and other witnesses before making a ruling. You may appear via video or in person.
- Review by Appeals Council: If you disagree with the hearing results, you can request that an Appeals Council review the case and either make a ruling themselves or send it back to a judge. However, if the Council determines that the previous decision was correct, it may not review your case.
- Federal court review: Filing a civil lawsuit in a federal district court is the last level in the appeals process. Parties may pursue this option if the Appeals Council refuses to review a case or if they disagree with their ruling.
In other words, even if your application for benefits is denied, you do not just have one opportunity to appeal the decision: you have four.
Navigating this process
With so many options and processes to consider when appealing a decision on your benefits, it can be overwhelming to know what to do. Thankfully, you do not need to do this alone. You have the right to work with a legal representative who is familiar with the appeals processes and can help you pursue the desired outcome.
SSDI benefits can be vital to workers with serious health concerns and conditions. Thus, exploring all options and avenues to collect them can be essential.