If you applied for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits and were denied, you should know that you are not alone. This is actually what happens to most people. Only 23% of people are accepted on their initial application, according to one research report.
Fortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) allows denied applicants to appeal. This process comes with a lot of rules and can be both frustrating and confusing. To help you get your bearings, here are five things you should know about the SSD appeals process.
1. There are two types of denials
There are two main reasons an SSD application might be rejected. A denial for “medical reasons” means the SSA does not believe you meet its definition for disabled. A denial for “technical reasons” means the decision was due to something else – lack of work credits, maybe, or some missing paperwork.
2. Address the problem directly
If you want to appeal a denial, it is important to read and review all of the information. Once you understand why the SSA denied your application, you can figure out how to address the problem. Doing so gives you the best chance at a successful appeal.
3. Speed is important
After your initial denial, you usually only have 60 days to request an appeal. If you miss this deadline, you might be out of luck.
4. There are multiple stages
You have more than one shot at an appeal. The first level is known as reconsideration. During this stage, the SSA will have a different person review your application. If that appeal is unsuccessful, you can request a hearing with an administrative law judge. A rejection there could lead to a review by the Appeals Council and, if necessary, even a lawsuit in federal district court.
5. You can get help with the appeal
You are allowed to enlist the help of someone else, such as an attorney, to guide you through the appeals process. This person is known as your representative, and will often work with the SSA directly so you do not have to. A representative works on a contingency basis, meaning they generally cannot charge you a fee unless you win your case.