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How to appeal SSDI denial

Many individuals who apply for Social Security disability income receive an initial denial. However, that does not mean these people are not ultimately eligible for benefits. 

Applicants have the right to appeal a benefits decision by the Social Security Administration by going through the agency’s official channels as follows. 

Reconsideration request 

Applicants can request an online reconsideration within 60 days of receiving an application denial. This option is available for denials associated with your assets, living situation, income and/or medical condition. During this first-phase appeal, you can submit new evidence that supports your application. All evidence receives a brand-new review from a representative who does not take part in the initial review and denial of your application. 

Administrative judge hearing 

If your reconsideration request receives a denial, you can ask the SSA to refer your case to an administrative law judge. The agency will hold a hearing within 75 miles of your residence. At this hearing, you can present the evidence of your case or have an attorney present the evidence on your behalf. The judge will decide whether you are eligible to receive benefits 

Appeals Council review 

If the administrative law judge denies or dismisses your appeal, you can ask for a review by the SSA’s Appeals Council. However, even though you can request a review, the council can decline to hear your request if it finds that the judge followed federal guidelines when denying or dismissing your appeal. 

Civil lawsuit 

If the Appeals Council refuses to hear your case or issues a denial, you have 60 days to file a federal district court appeal in your jurisdiction. The assigned judge will listen to the evidence and make a final, legally binding decision about your SSDI application. 

Comprehensive evidence and documentation, including testimony by your health care providers, can increase the likelihood of a successful SSDI application. For best results, gather as much information about your condition as possible before the appeal.