Disability Appeals for Denied Claims

Disability appeals can be tricky, but if you have already applied for benefits in the past and were denied, don’t give up! In fact, most people are initially denied when they apply on their own. You can still re-apply or appeal the denial with the help of a qualified social security disability advocate or attorney.

TIP: The help of a Social Security Disability advocate or attorney may significantly improve your chances of approval, get you approved more quickly and increase the benefits amount you’re awarded! Get free help today.


Many applicants accept the first denial without realizing that the majority of initial disability applications are rejected. In fact, sometimes the SSA rejects a claim solely on the basis of a technicality. It is important to understand that denial of your initial application is not the end of the disability appeals process!

Reasons for a Denial

Most often, the SSA determines that a claimant’s disability does not prevent him or her from performing all types of work. They will typically cite a claimant’s residual functional capacity as a reason for denial. The SSA might also determine that there is inadequate medical documentation for a claim of disability or that the consultative examination has produced evidence to refute the medical opinion of your primary physician. The Disability Determination Services (DDS) evaluation may find that your disability is not categorized as long-term and therefore a denial is issued. If you receive a denial of your disability claim, you should appeal the decision. In fact, the law allows you four different steps in the disability appeals process to give you more chances for approval.

Disability Appeals: How the Process Works

There are four stages of the disability appeals process. They include:

  1. Reconsideration
  2. Administrative Hearing
  3. Appeals Council Review
  4. Federal Court

After denial of your initial claim by the DDS, you must file a “Request for Reconsideration” within 60 days. This disability appeals stage is conducted internally by the DDS. An examiner for the DDS that did not work on your claim specifically will evaluate the entry file and determine if your denial was made in error. However, statistics show that claims are rarely reversed at the reconsideration stage.

If you receive a denial of your reconsideration, you have 60 days to request an Administrative Hearing. This hearing is where you present your disability claim to an Administrative Law Judge. The hearing date may be set any day from three months to one year from the filing date. Once in court, the judge will have reviewed your claim before proceedings begin. The focus of the hearing will be upon your residual functional capacity. This is a very typical court proceeding. You are given the opportunity to make your case and the judge will ask you questions to further evaluate your claim. Witnesses may be called to testify on your behalf. Occasionally experts are called to submit their opinion based upon an evaluation of your claim. The judge will conclude the hearing once all supporting evidence has been submitted. After the closing of the hearing, the judge will make a determination and notify you of the decision in writing. The notification process typically takes two months.

Denial of an Appeal

TIP: Avoid a second denial by requesting a free evaluation of your case with an experienced Social Security disability advocate or attorney.


Should your appeal be denied at the Administrative Hearing, the next stage in the process is to file an appeal with the Appeals Council. Once again, you have 60 days to file this appeal after receiving the judgment from the Administrative Hearing. The Appeals Council must complete a review of your claim before your case is submitted to the United States District Court. The Appeals Council will review the decision made by the judge and the evidence presented at your Administrative Hearing. The possible outcomes of this review by the Appeals Council include: refusal, a request for additional information, a reevaluation by your Administrative Hearing Judge, or a reversal of the decision.

Legal Representation Makes Disability Appeals More Likely to Win Benefits

Clearly, once a claim for disability has passed the process of Reconsideration, it is highly recommended a claimant get legal help from a Social Security attorney. Because the SSA is such an extensive bureaucracy, disability appeals advocates and attorneys are exceptionally familiar with the processes and practices involved in issuing denials of claims. It is extremely difficult to establish evidence of a disability eligible for benefits without knowledge or experience that can match that of the SSA. Claims entering the third stage of consideration (the stage of appeal at the Administrative Hearing) are almost entirely handled by attorneys representing the interests of the claimant.

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