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How does the SSDI appeals process work?

Your medical condition should enable you to receive SSDI payments. You followed the application process and waited to receive your determination. However, when the letter came in the mail, it was not the good news you hoped for.

A rejection for SSDI can seem like a huge setback. After all, you need that money to live because you cannot work the way you used to. There is an appeals process for SSDI you can go through to get another chance at receiving the benefits you need.

Make the request

After your denial letter, you have 60 days to appeal the decision. You need to do so in writing. There is a form you can get from the Social Security Administration. Now, you can submit SSDI appeals online through the SSA website. You need to upload any supporting documentation electronically to accompany your application.

Know the proper appeal level

Your denial letter will contain the exact appeal level your case is at. Four levels of SSDI appeals currently exist:

Reconsideration – An independent person who did not work on your original denial reviews your entire file and application as if you had never applied before. You can present new evidence if any exists.

Administrative law judge hearing – The next level of appeal involves an appearance in front of an administrative law judge. At this hearing, you will answer questions posed by the judge. You can present evidence and even witnesses who advocate for your benefits.

Appeal council – If your appeal gets denied by the administrative law judge, you can request a review by the appeals council. The council reviews all prior admissions. If it believes the judge's decision was correct, the appeals council will automatically reject your request. It may kick the case back to the judge.

Federal court – If the other three steps fail to get you approved, your last level is to file a lawsuit in federal court.

Appealing an SSDI decision may seem daunting. You can get help at any time from someone who has experience with dealing with SSDI denials. Knowing what to expect is half the battle.

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Ronald E. Smith, P.C.
3900 University Drive, Suite 320
Fairfax, VA 22030
Phone: 703-539-5825
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