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

Social Security Denial - What should be done if your disability is denied?

1. If you receive a disability denial, submit an appeal as soon as possible. This can be done online. If you cannot do this for whatever reason, contact the local social security office where you initially filed your claim to request an appeal. This will prompt that office to send you the necessary forms, which will allow you to get them completed and submitted as soon as possible. How quickly should you get your disability appeal sent in? There is only one valid answer to that question: Immediately.

As a disability examiner, I found that a large percentage of claimants fail to get their appeals sent in timely and many do not even attempt to submit an appeal, but, instead, make the mistake of filing a new disability claim.

However, new claims are generally not the wisest course of action since new claims are usually denied for the same reason as the prior claim. To maximize a claimant's chances of winning a Social Security Disability or SSI claim, they should file an appeal, not file a new claim.

2. After you get notified of a disability denial, If you have representation, meaning a disability representative who can be either a disability lawyer or a non-attorney representative, contact the individual handling your case.

The purpose of a representative on an SSD or SSI case is to represent your claim. That usually boils down to preparing your case for a hearing held by an adminstrative law judge. But even before a disability hearing takes place, a representative has the task of obtaining updates on your case, responding to requests for information from the social security administration and, of course, filing your appeals.

If you are represented by a disability attorney, you can still choose to file your own appeals. However, it usually makes little sense to do this. Also, by having your representative file your appeal paperwork, you can be sure that A) a copy of the appeal will be kept on file by your representative and B) a followup on the status of the disability appeal will be conduted at some point.

3. Make sure that your appeal is submitted before the deadline. SSA gives claimants a very generous appeal period in which to submit to an appeal. This timeframe is 60 days plus an additional five days for mail time, for a total of 65 days from the date of the denial notice (note: the appeal has to actually be received by social security by the 65th day, not simply mailed and postmarked on the 65th day).

Despite the generous timeframe, however, many claimants miss their appeal deadline. This is more unlikely to happen when a claimant is represented but since notices are sometimes not received by either a claimant or a representative, it is always a good idea to contact one's representative after a denial notice has been received. This ensures that both parties will "be on the same page" and that the appropriate course of action (submitting an appeal) can be taken.

4. Follow up on the appeal. It is not enough to simply send in an appeal. Ideally, you should always contact the social security office to verify that the appeal was actually received.

There have been cases in which a claimant sent in an appeal and did not follow up the receipt of the appeal, having just assumed that it was received and processed...and then found out, months later, that it had never been received. In such cases, the claimant typically has to start again with a new claim, meaning that many months of valuable time have been wasted.

Essential Questions

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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.