What to Do If Denied Benefits

Submitting a disability application doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be approved. In fact, more than half of all applications submitted annually are denied. A lack of sufficient medical evidence is one of the most common reasons. Other are denied because the disability onset date is too recent and the Social Security Administration (SSA) therefore can’t determine yet if the medical condition will prevent gainful employment for 12 months or longer, which is the minimum duration required for eligibility.

Regardless of why you’re denied benefits though, you may have no choice but to continue to fight to get approved. After all, without your usual income from employment, you and your family may not be able to make ends meet. Achieving a benefit approval under these circumstances is paramount.

Request a Reconsideration

When the SSA denies your claim following the first review, you can request a reconsideration or second review. You’ll receive a notice in the mail, explaining the reason for the denial. This notice will also explain your options and the time you have to request a reconsideration or “appeal” a denial.

At this stage in the review process, filing an appeal means you’re asking the SSA to take another look at your application. If you have new evidence or other documentation to share, be sure to do it at the same time or very soon after submitting your appeal request. Submit your Request for Reconsideration form before the deadline elapses, and keep in mind there may be other forms required, dependent upon the reason you were denied.

Denied at the Initial Stage

Request an Appeal Hearing

If you’ve been denied benefits even following a reconsideration of your claim, then you’ll need to file another request to have your claim pushed on to the next level of the appeals process. This time, you’re appealing with a formal request to have your case reviewed by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

You can request an appeal hearing with an ALJ via the SSA’s website, or download the forms you need instead. You can also obtain these forms at the local SSA office. Either way, the wait for an appeal hearing date can be lengthy. Use this time to prepare for the hearing and to gather additional evidence in support of your claim.

Send Additional Evidence

Whether you’re at the reconsideration or the hearing stage of the appeals process, new evidence can make all the difference. Be sure to gather and send along new evidence as it becomes available. Also, be certain you submit new evidence within the time the SSA allows. There isn’t much time to gather this documentation at the reconsideration stage, but the appeal hearing window for evidence submission is more liberal.

Consult an Attorney

No matter the stage of the appeals process, you have the right to representation. A disability attorney can assist you in making a strong appeal and in submitting new, compelling evidence in your case. Having a disability attorney on your side for an appeal can significantly increase your chances of approval too, since a lawyer familiar with the SSA’s processes is best armed to address the specific causes of the denial.