Slepian Smith, PLLC

My SSI application was denied. What options do I have?

On this blog, we have examined the many challenges and frustrations people often encounter when applying for benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Unfortunately, many people have valid applications denied initially.

If you recently applied for SSI and the Social Security Administration denied your application, it is important that you not give up or assume that's the final word. You have the right to challenge the decision and file an appeal for SSI benefits.

How long do I have to file an appeal?

After you receive the letter stating the SSA has denied your application, you have 60 days to submit a letter requesting an appeal.

How many times can I appeal a decision?

There are four levels to the appeals process.

  1. The first level is reconsideration, where a different representative will re-examine your application.
  2. The second level is a hearing where an administrative law judge will review all the information you originally submitted as well as any new information provided at the hearing.
  3. The third level is a review by the Appeals Council. The council will review all the information from the previous appeals efforts and decide whether to deny the request for review, make a decision or return the case to an administrative law judge for a ruling.
  4. The next level is to file a lawsuit in federal court. If this happens, a federal judge will determine whether to grant you benefits, deny your claim or return the case to an administrative law judge. *Federal actions are sometimes appealed to the Circuit Court of Appeals and have gone all the way to the Supreme Court in very rare instances. 

How long will the appeals process take?

There is no exact answer in terms of how long it will take to get an answer to an appeal. The more times you appeal, the longer it can take. 

Ideally, an affirmative decision for SSI benefits would be made right away. However, that doesn't always happen. Before you decide that a denial means you don't qualify for benefits, you should discuss filing an appeal with an attorney to pursue a more favorable outcome.

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