If your initial disability claim with the Social Security Administration was denied, you are probably wondering if you have any options left or if you just have to take the denial and live with it. The good news is that you still have several chances to have the application approved.
Asking for reconsideration
After you initially submit your disability application, the SSA will send you a letter explaining its decision to grant or deny the claim. If the initial disability claim is denied, you have the option to ask for reconsideration directly on the SSA's website or by submitting a Form SSA-561, Request for Reconsideration.
A hearing before an administrative law judge
If your application is denied again, after asking for reconsideration, you have the option to ask for a hearing with an administrative law judge. Keep in mind that you only have a limited amount of time to request a hearing.
Many disability applications are initially denied, including many for applicants who should be approved for benefits. Statistically speaking, your best chance at getting your claim approved is at this hearing, so it is often worth requesting.
However, it's very important to do the work necessary to prove your claim before the hearing. That means working with doctors to gather the medical records and support needed to clearly explain and document your disability.
An attorney can help you successfully prepare for the hearing, and he or she can attend the hearing with you to plead your case.
Two more options for filing an appeal
If your claim has been denied by the administrative law judge after the hearing, all is not lost.
You still have the option to file an appeal with the SSA's Appeals Council. If it is denied again, the final option is to file an appeal in federal court. It's important to get an attorney's help if you are interested in appealing the decision in your case at either of these levels.
Although it is easier to have your claim approved at previous levels in the process, there are times when claims are eventually approved after being considered by the SSA's Appeals Council or federal appeals court.