How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

What if my SSI or Social Security Disability Application is denied?

Before answering this question directly, let's first analyze your options if you are denied on your claim for Social Security Disability or SSI disability.

The first option would be to do what many claimants do. In essence, they give up. As someone who has been involved in claimant representation, I have interacted with many hundreds of claimants who had applied for disability benefits in years past, been denied, and had entirely given up on the process.

In nearly all cases, that was a terrrible tactical decision because years later they found themselves filing again and starting from scratch. Had they not given up on the process and, instead, pushed forward with one or more disability appeals, they would have had a strong likelihood of receiving benefits.

The second option would not involve giving up on a claim but simply taking the wrong step. For hundreds of thousands of applicants, that wrong step is starting over with a brand new claim for disability after a notice of denial (known as a notice of disapproved claim) has been received. A new claim that is filed immediately after a prior claim has been turned down...is likely to be denied again.

Why? Because nothing really changes in the process. A new claim will be decided by an initial claims examiner at DDS who will very likely look at the exact same medical evidence and reach the same conclusion as the first disability examiner.

As a former disability examiner, I saw many instances in which claimants had filed up to 15 separate disability applications. The mere fact that they were on their 15th application for disability proved the point that they were making the wrong decision as to how to proceed with their claim and were basically wasting months, perhaps years, of time that could have been better spent in other ways.

Starting over with a new claim is also damaging in another respect: with a new filing date in place, a person who is later approved on a subsequent application may potentially lose a substantial amount in disability back pay.

The third option - filing an appeal immediately after being denied

If you are denied for disability benefits on your Social Security Disability application or SSI application and are continuing to have significant impairments from your medical conditions that A) cause you to have significant functional limitations and B) prevent you from working if you are an adult or prevent you from engaging in age-appropriate activities if you are a child, you should call your local Social Security office to request an appeal of your disability medical decision.

You should do this immediately because there is a deadline in which to file an appeal. The deadline is 60 days which would seem to be plenty of time; however, for the sake of saving processing time, you should always endeavor to file an appeal promptly.

If you are represented on your claim

Of course, if you have a disability lawyer or representative, have this individual complete your appeal for you. If you have representation, you should immediately contact your disability lawyer as soon as you receive written notice of your denial. Your Social Security lawyer (or non-attorney representative if this is the case) should receive a copy of any notification that you receive; however, this is not always the case. Contacting your disability representative, lawyer or other wise, will ensure that your appeal gets filed and gets filed promptly.

Once your representative becomes aware of the fact that you have been denied, they may contact you prior to submitting your appeal paperwork to see if anything has changed with your situation, or to see if there is new information to add to the case. For instance, if you have been to a doctor recently, if you have seen a new doctor that the social security administration is not aware of, if you have received a new diagnosis, if you have had new testing, or if your condition has worsened in some way.

If you have a disability attorney and that attorney files your appeal for you, they should send you a copy of the appeal paperwork for your records, as well as keep a copy for their own file, which will likely be used to prepare for a hearing before an administrative law judge at some point. Copies of submitted paperwork can be extremely important because in the event that SSA (social security administration) claims not to have received your paperwork, you can verify that it was sent in and on what date.

Keep in mind that the disability process may be lengthy, as there are three levels in the Social Security Disability appeal process for claims that have been turned down. Also keep in mind that you will be given sixty days in which to file an appeal or have an appeal filed for you by an attorney.

Your first level of appeal will be a reconsideration of your disability application, the second level of appeal will be a hearing before an administrative law judge, and the third level is an appeal to the Appeals Council (to review the decision of a judge if you have been denied at a hearing). If you are appealing to the Appeals Council, you should also file a new initial claim, as there are few reversals of administrative law judge decisions at the hearing level.

If you are denied for Social Security Disability, you should chiefly remember to get an appeal started as soon as possible and you may wish to consider representation from an attorney to improve your chances of winning your case.

Essential Questions

What is the Social Security Disability SSI list of impairments?

Can you work while getting or applying for Disability?

How Often Does Social Security Approve Disability The First Time You Apply?

Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

Receiving a Disability Award Letter

Conditions Social Security will recognize as a disability

Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

Applying for disability in your state

Most popular topics on SSDRC.com

Social Security Disability SSI Questions

The listings, list of disabling impairments

Can a mental illness qualify you for disability?

Disability Lawyers prevent unnecessary denials

How much Social Security Disability SSI back pay?

How to apply for disability for a child or children

Filing a Social Security Disability SSI application

Filing for disability - when to file

How to apply for disability - where to apply

Qualifications for disability benefits

How to Prove you are disabled and Win your Disability Benefits

Qualifying for Disability - The Process

How to get disability for depression

Getting disability for fibromyalgia

SSI disability for children with ADHD

What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?

Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

Social Security Disability SSI Exam tips

More Social Security Disability SSI Questions

Social Security Disability SSI definitions

What makes you eligible for Social Security Disability or SSI?

New and featured pages on SSDRC.com

Who can help me file for disability?

Related pages:

How to apply for disability and where to apply
Filing an Application for Disability Benefits under SSD or SSI - Step by Step
Tips on how to file for disability
What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
What happens after I file my disability claim with Social Security?
What happens after a Social Security Disability or SSI Claim has been taken and is Pending
If you get denied on a disability application do you have to file a new application?
How the Decision on a Disability Application or Appeal Under SSDI or SSI is Made
What does it mean when a Social Security Disability claim is expedited?
How to file a disability appeal in New Jersey
If you apply for disability in in New Jersey

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Can you get temporary Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

Permanent Social Security Disability

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?

Who is eligible for SSI disability?

Can I Be Eligible For SSI And Social Security Disability At The Same Time?

What makes a person eligible to receive disability benefits?

Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?

For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.