Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) is an important protection for those who are unable to work because of a medical disability that prevents them from doing so. Because of the importance of SSDI benefits, disabled applicants should know what they can do if their application for benefits has been denied.
In general, to qualify for Social Security disability, disabled applicants must suffer from a disabling medical condition that prevents them from working and is expected to last for 12 months or longer or result in death. Disabled applicants must also meet work history requirements and if they do not, should be aware that other options that may be available to them.
The process of applying for SSDI benefits can be complex and lengthy and initial claims are often denied. As a result, disabled applicant should be familiar with the appeals process. There are essentially four levels of appeal for an applicant denied SSDI benefits:
- Request for Reconsideration – During a request for reconsideration, the disabled applicant’s entire application will be reviewed by fresh eyes. Information initially associated with the application for benefits will be reviewed in addition to any new information submitted by the applicant.
- Hearing before an administrative law judge – If the application for disability benefits remains denied following a reconsideration, the disabled applicant may request a hearing before an administrative law judge. It is important for the disabled applicant to be prepared for the hearing during which they may be questioned and may also be permitted to bring witnesses.
- Appeals Council appeal – if the application for disability benefits is denied by the administrative law judge, the disabled applicant can make an appeal to the Social Security Administration Appeals Council for review.
- Appeal to federal court – The final option if the application for disability benefits is denied by the Appeals Council is to appeal the decision to the federal court.
It is important for disabled applicants to know what to do if their application for SSDI benefits has been denied and they disagree with the decision. It is also important to submit a through initial application and to provide detailed and complete medical records. Disabled individuals in need of Social Security disability benefits should understand the claims and appeals processes to help them obtain the benefits they need.