Social Security Disability
Appealing an Adverse Decision
First, know that you are not alone if your initial application is denied. Many people who ultimately qualify for benefits are turned down at the initial application stage. In some cases the SSA may have incomplete information about your medical condition or limitations. In other cases, your disability could be recent and may have worsened over time.
If you feel that you still cannot work after your benefits have been denied, there are several levels of appeal within the application process, including Reconsideration, an Administrative Judge Hearing, an Appeal Council Review and a Court Review. In each circumstance you must act promptly to preserve your claim. Generally, you must note your appeal within 60 days of receipt of an adverse decision. Your failure to meet this deadline may force you to file a new claim and potentially lose benefits from the initial filing period. In limited instances, however, you may be able to show "good cause" for a late appeal.
If the SSA denies your initial application for benefits you first must appeal by filing for reconsideration. You can consult with a local attorney prior to filing to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your application. In some cases, you may be able to demonstrate that you meet the SSA "listings" for certain impairments without the requirement for a hearing. If the SSA again denies your disability benefits at reconsideration, it would be advisable to obtain a representative prior to your next appeal, which is an Administrative Judge Hearing.