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Social Security Disability: The Reconsideration Stage

If you apply for Social Security Disability and your claim is denied, you should not give up hope of receiving the Social Security Disability benefits that you are rightfully entitled to. You have the option of going on to file an appeal of the decision. The first step of this appeal process is a request for reconsideration.

Many people make the mistake of assuming that it is better to file a new Social Security Disability application than it is to go on and file a request for reconsideration on an existing claim. This is not the case. If you simply begin the application process for Social Security Disability benefits from the beginning, your claim is likely to be denied again no matter how many times you decide to reapply.

If your application is denied and you wish to receive Social Security Disability benefits, your best chance for success is to file for reconsideration with the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Filing for Reconsideration

Reconsideration is the second step in the Social Security Disability application process and is the first step in the appeal process. If your initial application is denied, you must file for reconsideration within 60 days of receiving the notice of decision from the Social Security office. If you do not submit your request for reconsideration within that 60-day time period, you will need to begin the application process all over again.

When you file a request for reconsideration with the SSA, your application will be sent back to the Social Security office for review. The same office that handled your initial application will also be handling your request for reconsideration, but it will not be the same examiner reviewing your case at this stage of the process.

It is important to understand that the person who reviews your Social Security Disability reconsideration appeal is bound by the same rules as the person who reviewed your initial claim for Social Security Disability benefits. Because of this, many applications are denied at the reconsideration level. The exception to this rule is when vital information is left out of the initial application. Overall, approximately 86 percent of Social Security Disability claims are denied at the reconsideration level.

How to Handle the Social Security Disability Reconsideration Process

During the reconsideration process you will want to provide the SSA with updated information regarding visits to your doctor, any new treatments that you have undergone and any work activity you have performed, if applicable. It is very important that you share all of this information with the SSA since the outcome of your reconsideration appeal may depend on this information.

You should also review your initial Social Security Disability application when filing a request for reconsideration. Look through your application and the records that you provided during the initial stage. Oftentimes applicants will discover that important information was inadvertently left out of their initial claim. Submitting these details now can mean the difference between a successful reconsideration appeal and the need for further appeal proceedings.

Be sure to submit your reconsideration request as quickly as possible. While you technically have 60 days to submit your request for reconsideration, it is important to remember that the longer you wait to file your reconsideration request the longer it will take to receive a decision regarding your appeal for reconsideration.

You may wish to consult with a Social Security Disability attorney to assist you in your reconsideration appeal. While you are not required to have an attorney during this process, your chances of a successful appeal can be increased significantly by retaining an attorney to represent your interests in this matter.

The Social Security Disability Reconsideration Time Frame

Once the SSA has made a decision regarding your reconsideration appeal, they will send you a letter in writing notifying you of the decision that has been made. The letter will explain whether or not your appeal was successful as well as details regarding how the SSA came to the decision regarding your disability claim. On average, it will take between three to five months to complete the Social Security Disability reconsideration process and receive this letter of decision.

If your reconsideration request is denied, you may go on to appeal the decision further. The next step of the appeals process is to take your case before an administrative law judge at an appeal hearing. If you have not yet hired a Social Security Disability attorney and your claim is denied at the reconsideration level, you should consider retaining an attorney to represent you during the hearing process. Your chances of successfully appealing your disability claim are greatly increased with proper representation at your hearing.