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
How to Appeal a disability claim denial from Social Security
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
If your initial disability claim is denied, you need to contact your local Social Security office or the toll free number 1-800-772-1213 for an appeal (if you have an attorney, you may contact that individual and they will submit the necessary appeal forms for you).
It is important to always remember that all appeals for social security disability and SSI have a sixty-day appeal period and this is not negotiable with SSA. Appeal requests that are received outside the deadline date will generally not be accepted by the social security administration (unless "good cause" for the late appeal can be shown, such as a medical emergency), meaning that a claimant who files late will probably have to start over with a new disability application.
The Social Security appeals process consists of four levels, ranging from reconsideration requests to federal court. The first appeal is known as a request for reconsideration, and once you fill out and return your appeal paperwork, your claim will be sent back to the same state agency responsible for Social Security medical decisions for another decision. This is the agency at which a disability examiner rendered a decision on your initial disability application and in most states it is known as DDs, or disability determination services.
At DDS, after your appeal request is received by the social security office, a different disability examiner will review your reconsideration claim. However, your claim will be decided using the same rules and regulations as the initial social security disability or SSI claim. This accounts for why most reconsideration appeals are also denied.
If your reconsideration is denied (currently 87 percent of such appeals are denied), you may request a hearing before an administrative law judge. Often a hearing is your best chance of receiving a disability allowance, because an administrative law judge, while bound by the same rules and regulations as the state disability agency, has much more room for independent interpretation of the medical evidence.
Also, the judge will receive professional input from the disability attorney representing your case, should you choose to appear with representation, as well as any medical or vocational experts that the judge has chosen to have appear (one of your attorney's jobs will be to respond to hypothetical situations brought up by one of these experts, or to cross examine the testimony that they deliver to the judge).
Most claimants, for a variety of reasons, should consider getting a Social Security representative (an attorney or a non-attorney advocate) who is familiar with Social Security rules and regulations. As with any other court, it is usually a good idea to have a representative who knows the specic law and regulatory framework.
Claimants who appear unrepresented will generally be at a strong disadvantage, even in being able to interpret the information contained in their own file (which will be made available to them if they appear alone, so that they may examine the evidence that has been accumulated at all the prior steps of the process).
If your disability hearing before an ALJ (administrative law judge) is denied ,you may file an appeal of this decision to the Appeals Council (note: not many decisions are reversed there), and after that your only course would be Federal Court.
However, it should be stated that some individuals will pursue all appeal levels, be denied at each, and then will later begin the process all over with a new claim and be granted benefits. With SSD and SSI disability claims, persistence can often result in ultimately being approved for benefits.
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