Can You Appeal a Denial for SSDI Benefits?

Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, benefits can be a rigorous process. SSDI applications require attention to detail and a lot of paperwork. They also take a while to process. On average, it takes three to four months to receive an initial decision about your benefits. In some cases, it can take even longer.

Even more concerning for many people is the fact that the Social Security Administration may deny their request for benefits. However, if this happens, you do have a right to appeal the decision. SSDI appeals can be as complex — and often even more complex — than the initial application, so it may be a good idea to work with an experienced SSDI attorney on your appeal.

Four Levels of SSDI Denial Appeals

There are four levels of SSDI appeals. You must start with the first level, which requires you to request reconsideration of the decision. If you don’t get a satisfactory result from the first level of appeal, you can move up through the appeal levels until you get such a result or you run out of options.

Reconsideration Request

Each level of appeal comes with specific timeline requirements. For example, you must submit a reconsideration request within 60 days of receiving a denial to your SSDI application. You can submit such a request in one of a few ways:

  • Online via the SSA website
  • By mailing a completed hardcopy of the Request for Reconsideration form to the Social Security office nearest to your home
  • By faxing a completed copy of the Request for Reconsideration form to the Social Security office nearest to your home

Once you submit this form, someone with Disability Determination Services (DDS) reviews your request and file and makes a decision regarding your case. It may be important that you include additional evidence about your case, such as letters or documents from your physician if these were not already included with your application.

Judicial Hearing

If the response to your reconsideration request is not satisfactory, you have the option to continue to the next level, which is requesting a hearing with a judge. You must do so within 60 days of receiving the reconsideration decision.

You request this next level of appeal the same way you request a reconsideration: via the SSA website, mail, or fax. A hearing is scheduled and takes place in person, over the phone, or via video conference, depending on the needs of the individual and the court.

During the hearing, you may need to provide additional evidence for your claim. The judge will also ask questions about your condition and SSDI claim, and experts, including doctors, can testify.

Review of the Judge’s Decision

If the judge does not decide in your favor after the hearing, you can appeal the case further. At this point, you can ask for an Appeals Council to review the evidence and information presented at the hearing and to determine if it agrees with the judge’s decision.

As with the other levels of appeal above, you must request this review within 60 days of receiving the judge’s decision after your hearing. You can request the review on the SSA website or via fax or mail.

Typically, you do not provide any additional evidence at this time. The Appeals Council generally reviews the information from your original hearing and makes a decision based on that. This is why it’s critical to ensure your application and early appeals include as much information and documentation to support your claim as possible.

Federal District Court Action

If the Appeals Council doesn’t decide in your favor, you have one more option to appeal an SSDI denial. This is to file a civil suit. You have 60 days from the time you receive the Appeals Council’s decision to file a civil action with the correct U.S. District Court.

From there, the matter becomes a civil law issue involving complaints, summons, and other legal briefs. You may also need to attend court hearings and other events, though an experienced lawyer will help you understand everything involved and may represent you in court.

Get Help With Your SSDI Appeal

For many people, SSDI benefits play a critical role in quality of life, including supporting their ability to live independently or afford basic necessities like food and shelter. Applying for these benefits knowing that there is a chance they might be denied can be nerve-racking. This is why many people turn to attorneys who are well-versed in Social Security benefits.

You can get help from an experienced attorney with your initial SSDI application. This may increase the chances of a speedier approval and reduce the chance that your claim is denied on a technicality due to paperwork errors or missing information.

If you have already filed your application and it has been denied, don’t face the appeals process alone. Work with an experienced attorney who understands the appeals process and can help you navigate it in a timely and aggressive manner to increase your chance of a more positive outcome.

If you live in the Winter Haven, Florida, area and are dealing with SSDI denials, we can help. Reach out to the team at Jiles Law, P.A. by calling 863-356-0941 to find out more about our services and how we can help with your case.