Social Security Disability Appeals Process: What to Expect

Social Security Disability Appeals Process

The process of receiving Social Security disability (SSDI) benefits is already time-consuming. So having to go through it a second time because your claim was denied can be downright daunting. Having to appeal a denied Social Security claim can be intimidating for applicants, and many people end up questioning if it is even worth it. So before you file your appeal, here’s what to expect during the Social Security disability appeals process.



The foremost thing all Social Security disability applicants need to know is that it’s always a good idea to appeal a denial. You have the right to do so, and the Social Security Administration (SSA) will examine the entire decision. The agency has no qualms about changing their decision on denied claims, and you can request an appeal through its website.

Get Legal Representation During Your Social Security Disability Appeals Process

Your best bet of securing Social Security disability benefits is to work with an advocate or attorney, who can help make everything go smoother the second time around. In fact, 80% of applicants who have their denial overturned did so with legal representation during the Social Security disability appeals process.

1. There Are Four Levels In the Social Security Disability Appeals Process

Your Social Security disability appeals process will potentially go through four different steps:

  • Reconsideration
  • Hearing
  • Appeals Council review
  • Federal court

2. Use Your Social Security Disability Denial Notice to Know Which Appeal You Can Request

When a decision about your application is made, you will receive a letter. If you have been denied, it will say so on this letter. It will also tell you how to appeal the decision if you disagree with the denial.

3. You Must Request Your Appeal in Writing

If you decide you want your claim reconsidered, you need to let the SSA know in writing. An attorney or disability advocate can provide guidance on how to do this.

4. Your Hearing Can Be Held through Video

Video hearings are really no different than an in-person meeting with a judge, according to the SSA. In fact, scheduling a video hearing has many benefits, as it often takes less time than an in-person and can make it easier for all involved. Video hearings mean you do not have to travel a great distance because you only need to go to a site that is convenient for you. A technician will be on site to operate the equipment so you don’t have to, and the judge can simply stay in his or her office. For many disabled people, video meeting are the only way they can attend their hearings. The SSA will contact you if a video hearing is available in your area, and you must contact the SSA if you cannot make an in-person meeting.

5. You Will Be Questioned During the Hearing – And You Can Question Witnesses

One of the best reasons to work with an attorney during the Social Security disability appeals process is because the judge will question you and all available witnesses. A Social Security Disability attorney can prepare you for the judge’s inquiries and ensure you respond in the best way possible to help your case. You can also question witnesses. An attorney can do this for you.

6. You Have 60 Days to Start The Social Security Disability Appeals Process

You only have a 60-day timeframe to appeal your denial. The 60 days start from the date you receive your decision letter, and you lose the right to appeal when the 60 days are up. The SSA assumes you receive your denial letter five days after the date stamped on it.

To see if you may qualify for legal assistance during the Social Security disability appeals process, click the button below to start your free disability benefits evaluation.

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