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What can you expect from the SSDI appeals process?

Someone may have warned you that an astonishing number of applications for Social Security disability benefits come back denied after the initial application. Even so, you are in need of those benefits, so you applied anyway and received the expected denial.

Fortunately, you do have the chance to appeal that denial. This process may be complex and probably won't be easy, but you may avail yourself of this opportunity to restate your case. This time, it may be worth your while to seek support in your endeavor in order to help increase your chances of success. Time is of the essence, however. You have 60 days from the date of your denial letter to start the process.

Appeals occur in four levels

The Social Security Administration appeals process has four levels:

  • Request for reconsideration: Someone other than the original reviewer of your claim conducts a thorough review of your claim. You may submit new evidence for this review. 
  • Request for hearing: An administrative law judge takes testimony and reviews evidence before making a decision. You may submit new evidence for this hearing as well.
  • Request for review by appeals council: The appeals council may review your claim, but deny your request for further review. It may also make its own decision or return your case to the administrative law judge for a second look. 
  • Filing a lawsuit in federal court: Your last level of appeal involves filing a lawsuit in federal court. 

As you move through the appeals process, it may be possible to continue receiving benefits if your denial was due to the perception that your condition improved or your SSI benefits have stopped or reduced. There is one caveat, however. If your claim is denied as you move through your appeals, you may have to repay those benefits to the SSA. 

Seek support

The above descriptions of the SSA's appeals process are a simplification of what you will go through. Understanding what information you need in order to properly illustrate your need for benefits often provides a challenge that can cause frustration and stress. Many initial applications and appeals hinge on the evidence provided, or not provided, as the case may be. Missing an important piece of evidence could mean the difference when it comes to receiving much needed benefits.

In reality, you may need assistance in order to increase your chances of successfully appealing a denial of SSDI benefits.

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