I applied for Disability Benefits from Social Security (SS) but was denied, what do I do next?
People applying for the first time are often turned down initially, but are successful eventually after going through the appeals process. When you receive approval, benefits will be retroactive from the time you first applied. It's very important to make sure that copies of complete medical information and work history are sent to your local Social Security Office when you apply for benefits. If you are turned down, follow the appeals procedure carefully to insure your application is re-considered. Keep a copy of all forms, letters, or materials submitted to Social Security.
Details on how decisions are made, the appeals process, what information to submit, and on line applications are all available at: http://www.ssa.gov/disability. You can also call Social Security at 800-772-1213 to request a hard copy of an application or other information.
In brief, there are three steps to the appeals process:
- If the initial determination is denied, write requesting a re-determination within 60 days of receiving the notice and send in additional information depending on the reason for your original denial.
- If the reconsideration is denied, write requesting a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) within 60 days after the date of receiving the notice of the reconsidered determination.
- If the ALJ decision is negative, write to request review by the Appeals Council within 60 days after the date of receiving the notice of the ALJ's decision. If the Appeals Court denies the claim, the case can be reviewed in federal court.
You may be represented by an attorney or another qualified person (knowledgeable about SS) at any step in the proceedings. The person who represents you often charges a percentage of the retroactive benefits as a fee up to a maximum of 25%, if they are successful. Call your local Bar Association if you want a list of lawyers who specialize in disability benefits. The local Legal Services Organization can also represent very low income clients in this process.