What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
How do you Win Benefits under Social Security Disability or SSI?
If I am determined disabled, how far back will Social Security pay benefits?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition?
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Denial of Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
How to File for Disability - Tips for Filing
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
How much does a Social Security disability attorney get paid?
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability SSI and Fibromyalgia
Social Security Disability SSI and Degenerative Disc Disease
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
Answers to questions about SSD and SSI disability
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability Status
Social Security Disability Tips — how a claim gets worked on
Social Security Disability, SSI Disability - Terms, Definitions, Concepts
If You are Denied for Disability, What Should You do First?
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
If you are denied for disability the thing to keep in mind is that this decision is not necessarily a reflection of the severity of your impairment. It’s very difficult to be approved for disability at the initial application level—only 7 out of 10 initial applications are approved, on average (though this number could be better or worse depending on the state in which you live).
Some people who are turned down for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) make one of two mistakes: Either they give up completely, or start over with a brand new claim.
Giving up, if you are living with an impairment that is having an impact on your ability to work, particularly one that is likely to worsen over time, is not truly an option. At some point in the future you will find yourself in worse health, physically, mentally, and financially, and the process of applying for disability will only become more difficult.
Filing a new claim because you hope to get a different result if a different disability examiner reviews you claim is also not a good idea. The state agency that decides all initial applications for Social Security, usually called the Disability Determination Services (DDS) agency, is under a lot of pressure to keep the number of approvals down. Submitting the same claim to the same agency is likely to result in yet another denial, and waste months of your time (it takes about 3 to 4 months to receive a decision on a claim).
If you are denied for SSD or SSI, your first step should be to immediately appeal. This first appeal, a request for reconsideration, must be filed within 60 days (plus 5 days grace for mailing) from the date stamped in the corner of your notice of denial. If you miss the deadline you will probably have to file a new claim, a bad idea as previously stated.
Is your claim more likely to be approved as a result of a reconsideration appeal? Not really. Reconsideration appeals are also decided by DDS, the same agency that made the initial denial. The exception here could be if you have any new medical evidence to add to the record such as medical test results, reports from ER visits, etc. Only about 15% of all reconsideration appeals are successful.
You’re probably wondering, at this point, why you should bother to appeal at all. The reason for going through the disability appeals process is that it keeps your claim advancing through the system to the second level of appeal, the disability hearing. Disability hearings take place before a federal administrative law judge. Statistically, ALJs are far more likely to approve applications for SSD and SSI than the disability examiners employed by DDS.
In short, the disability hearing presents a claimant with his best chance of winning benefits, particularly when represented by a disability attorney or non-attorney rep. About 60% of those who attend a disability hearing with legal representation are approved.
If you are denied for disability, does it ever make sense to file a new claim rather than an appeal? Only if your denial was based on non-medical criteria; for instance, if you made too much money to qualify for disability benefits at the time you first filed but your monthly income has since decreased, or if your reconsideration appeal was denied because you missed a deadline, or, in the case of those filing for SSI, if the value of your total assets was too high (to qualify for SSI you must demonstrate financial need, with assets totaling not more than $2,000 excluding your home and one car).
In all other instances it is better to appeal than file a new claim, and filing an appeal is exactly what you should do if you are denied for disability.
At each level of appeal, a claimant has a better chance of winning benefits than he would if he either gave up entirely or skipped the appeals process in favor of filing the same claim again with DDS.
Return to: SSDRC, or the Questions, Answers, Tips, and Advice page
Individual Questions and Answers
SSD and SSI are Federal Programs
The title II Social Security Disability and title 16 SSI Disability programs operate under federal guidelines and, therefore, the program requirements--medical and non-medical--apply to all states:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Recent approval and denial statistics for various states can be viewed here:
Social Security Disability, SSI Approval and Denial Statistics by state
Special Section: Disability Lawyers and unnecessary claim denials