Social Security Disability Resource Center

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What happens 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 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 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 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 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 you 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 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.

  • What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

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  • Which conditions will social security recognize as a disability?

  • Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

  • SSDRC Homepage:

    Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center

    The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work

    Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

    Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI

    Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    The SSI Disability Benefits Program

    Medical exams for disability claims

    Applying for Disability in various states

    Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs

    Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews

    Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children

    Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative

    What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

    Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney

    Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits

    FAQ on Disability Claim Representation

    Disability hearings before Judges

    Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers

    Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits

    Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability

    Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children

    Disability Benefits through Social Security

    Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records

    Filing your claim for disability benefits

    Eligibility for receiving disability benefits

    Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved

    FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions

    The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration

    Resources on this site

    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Applying for Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    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.

    Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
    How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
    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?
    How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
    How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
    Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
    Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria