What to do when social security denies your claim

Millions of disabled workers apply for disability benefits each year. Unfortunately, up to 75% of first time disability applicants are denied either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). If you have been denied benefits you have several options: you can attempt to return to work, you can file a new disability application or you can file an appeal.

Why was my disability claim denied?

Prior to making your decision, you need to review why your claim was denied. Some applicants do not meet the basic requirements for SSDI or SSI.

For instance, if you are working too much or making too much money when you apply, you will be automatically denied benefits. If you apply but your condition is expected to last less than 12 continuous months, you will be denied.

If you apply for SSDI benefits but you do not have sufficient work credits to be insured for benefits, you will be denied.

If you apply for SSI benefits but your income and resource levels are too high, you will be denied. If any of the above examples describes your situation, unless something has changed, if you continue to apply again and again, you will continue to be denied.

When should you apply again or appeal? If something has changed. For instance, if you were working the first time you filed your disability application but you have recently quit your job due to the severity of your condition, you could file an appeal.

Should I file an appeal?

If you met all the basic requirements for SSDI or SSI but the SSA claims your condition was not severe enough or you could retrain for new work, you can file an appeal. All appeals must be filed within 60 days from the date of the denial letter.

The first step in the appeal process is the Reconsideration (in most states). The Reconsideration allows a second disability examiner to review the information you have submitted and make another disability determination. Unfortunately, the rate of denial at the Reconsideration stage is 80%.

If you are denied at the Reconsideration stage you can file another appeal and request an administrative hearing with a law judge. The good news is most claimants have a better chance of winning benefits at this stage because they are able to give testimony and present evidence directly to someone who has the legal authority to grant them benefits.

When do I have to file a new application for disability benefits?

If you have been denied benefits and you do not file an appeal within the 60 day deadline, you will have to submit a new disability application. Some claimants never appeal their claims and simply file new disability applications over and over again, but this strategy is not recommended because the case never reaches the administrative law judge, eliminating the claimant's best chance to receive benefits.

What's the bottom line? Getting benefits is about perseverance. The process is long and complicated. Most claimants will have to appeal their denials multiple times before they are awarded benefits.

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