Monday, March 31, 2008

Denied for Social Security Disability — What do I do?

The first thing to know if you get denied for social security disability benefits is that this does not mean that you are not eligible to receive disability payments, or that your case will not at some point be approved. In fact, the vast majority of claimants filing for disability are denied — nationally, only about thirty percent of applicants can expect to be approved for benefits on their first try. So if you have a physical, mental, or psychological condition that is preventing you from working or from meeting your financial obligations, do not get discouraged and give up if the social security administration rejects your claim.

If you are denied social security disability (SSD) (also known as SSDI a.k.a. social security disability insurance), or supplemental security income (SSI), there are two courses of action that you can take. The first is to start the entire process over by filing a new disability application with social security. Sometimes this is the best choice, but only in cases in which the denial was based, not upon medical evidence, but on other non-medical issues, such as missed deadlines, or an income that was too high at the initial filing but has since decreased. (Applicants can be turned down if their income exceeds, even by $1, the substantial gainful activity (SGA) amount set forth by social security.

If your disability claim was denied based on your medical history, then the best course of action is nearly always to file a request for reconsideration with your state disability determination agency. The reconsideration request allows a claimant to appeal the decision made by a disability examiner, and to submit any new evidence that will support or bolster the claim, such as new prescriptions, medical treatments or tests ordered by physicians and emergency room visits and any medical records or notes associated with the evidence.

By filing an appeal instead of a new claim, you can cut out the average four-month-long wait associated with an initial claims decision. Just be sure to notify the social security office of your intent to file a request for reconsideration as soon as you receive notice that your disability application has been denied. There is a 60-day deadline, from the date of your denial, in which to file (actually 65 days if you count the additional five days that SSA allows for mailing time). If you miss the deadline, you will have no choice but to begin again with a new claim.

If the request for reconsideration appeal is also denied, then your next step should be to request a hearing before an administrative judge. This is your best bet for winning disability benefits—-60 percent of disability cases are won at this level (when the claimant is represented, either by an attorney or non-attorney representative).

This probably sounds a bit daunting to the disabled individual who is considering filing an appeal for disability benefits.

Is it worth it? Yes. Keep in mind that, with each level of appeal the odds that an application will be approved improve considerably.

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

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