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What are an SSDI applicant’s first steps after getting denied?

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2021 | Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a relatively confusing benefit program. Most people don’t know very much about SSDI, but the one thing they do know is that it is a difficult benefit to get.

Stories of people with severe or even fatal medical conditions receiving a denial instead of an approval are quite common. It can be a difficult process for some people to get the benefits that they need with a disabling medical condition.

Thankfully, a denial is not the end of the road for applicants. Instead, it is merely the first step down a path that could very well result in them receiving benefits. What steps do you need to take if you discover that you are one of those qualified but denied SSDI applicants?

Figure out what caused the denial

The letter that you receive notifying you that the Social Security Administration (SSA) did not approve your application will include quite a bit of detail. They will identify your medical condition and their summary of the medical documentation that you provided. They will also provide you with an explanation for the denial.

In some cases, you may find that the issue is merely missing paperwork. Other times, you didn’t make a mistake on the application but rather failed to submit adequate evidence to show that the condition is severe enough to qualify for benefits. Knowing what caused the denial will help you prepare for the next step.

If a decision seems arbitrary, reconsideration could help

If the issue was not a mistake in paperwork or a lack of evidence but rather that the person reviewing the application didn’t seem serious enough to warrant benefits, a reconsideration could solve the issue. Applicants can request that the SSA appoint someone else to review their application. In some cases, the second review can result in an approval.

Start preparing for a hearing with an administrative law judge

For applicants who did not submit enough documentation or for whom reconsideration is not successful, the next step will be requesting a hearing with an administrative law judge. This hearing is an opportunity for you and your lawyer to demonstrate how serious the impact of your condition is and how you definitely need SSDI benefits to provide for yourself.

For many applicants, the hearing will be the last stage of the appeals process. However, there are additional appeals available to those who do not achieve success immediately after they receive a denial letter. What is most important is that you do not give up but rather take steps to educate yourself and push for the benefits you need.