You filed your Social Security Disability (SSDI) application months ago, filled out every form they sent, answered every phone call and even attended a consultative exam at the agency’s request.
Then, you waited. When your claim was finally processed, it was denied.
As frustrating as your situation may be, it’s not unusual. The vast majority of applicants for SSDI have to file at least one appeal. Understanding more about what happens next won’t make the process go faster, but it can help you know what to expect.
The type of appeal determines how long you have to wait
If this is the first time that your claim has been denied, you can file a Request for a Reconsideration. Essentially, this asks the Social Security Administration (SSA) to take a second look at your claim to see if the decision was justified.
This process works much like the initial claims process, but it’s often a much shorter wait (since most of your medical information has already been collected). You may only have to wait another month or two before you get the second decision.
The news isn’t so great, however, if you’ve already gone through a Reconsideration and been denied. Then, you have to file a Request for a Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). As of recently, the Hearings Office in Norfolk, Virginia, has an average wait time of 13 months before claimants can be heard by a judge.
While you’re waiting, you may be able to influence your claim in a positive way. You can do this through:
- Continuing with your medical care and making all your appointments
- Following your doctor’s guidance and seeking additional care as needed
- Updating your medical records with Social Security as you go, so that your file stays complete
Finally, one of the wisest things you can do is make sure that you have experienced legal guidance to help you through this process.