If you’ve been denied Social Security Disability benefits, you are not alone. More than two-thirds of initial applications are denied. You can always appeal, which we would advise you to do, but it’s a good idea to have a decent understanding of the process first. The appeal process consists of four stages:
- Reconsideration—If you’re denied benefits, you must request reconsideration in writing within 60 days of the date you received your denial notice. Your appeal will be considered by someone who did not take part in the review of your initial application. Most often you do not need to be present for this stage of the appeal process.
- Administrative Law Judge Hearing—If your initial reconsideration request is denied, you or your representative can request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). Again, you must request this hearing within 60 days of the date you received your reconsideration denial notice. This hearing may require you to have additional medical exams or tests done to determine the extent of your disability.
- Appeals Council Review—If the ALJ denies your request, your next course of action is to request an Appeals Council review. The Appeals Council will do one of three things: grant your request for review and decide the case itself, grant your request for review and send it back to the ALJ to decide, or deny your request altogether.
- Federal Court—Your final course of action is to file a civil action with the U.S. District Court. It’s vitally important that you have an attorney represent you during this stage. An experienced Social Security Disability attorney can help protect your rights and give you a better chance of securing benefits.