What’s the appeals process for a Social Security Disability denial?

Obtaining Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits on your first try is notoriously difficult. Many entirely valid claims initially get denied.

If that happens to you, you need to understand the basics about your rights to an appeal and what steps to take next. Your denial letter may contain at once too little information to understand why your claim was rejected and not enough information about what to do next, so let’s break it down.

A reconsideration comes first

The first step in an SSD appeal is a reconsideration. This operates much like an initial claim does in that you file a request with your local field office and the claim is sent back to the state Disability Determination Services (DDS).

There, it will be assigned to a new team of employees who are expected to update your records, attempt to close any gaps in the information in your file and re-evaluate your claim with new eyes.

A hearing comes next

If your claim is denied again, you need to request a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This is much more complicated — and the process can be lengthy — but it allows you to come face-to-face with someone who has the power to approve your claim.

At a hearing, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will be asked to justify your denial. Your attorney can then challenge their logic. This is often the juncture where the case will turn in your favor.

If your Social Security Disability claim has been denied, don’t lose heart or hope. Speak with a legal advocate who fully understand your situation and learn more about what you can do to advance your interests.