You may have worked a physical job for many years before your body just says “no more.” Whether you were a custodian, worked in the construction industry, worked at a factory or worked any other physical job, after decades in the workplace you may find that your knee injuries, shoulder injuries or back injuries have become so severe that they prevent you from working altogether. Or you may have worked a desk job or service job, unskilled or skilled, and now find arthritis, memory deficits, mental health concerns, or fibromyalgia – to name just a few impairments – makes it impossible for you to continue in full-time employment.
You may decide to seek Social Security disability benefits. SSDI or SSI benefits can be the financial lifeline you need to make ends meet once you can no longer work. Therefore, it can be incredibly disappointing to learn that your initial application for benefits was denied. Do not lose hope. There is a four-step appeals process that may allow you to qualify for benefits. The following is an overview of that appeals process.
The first step in appealing a denied application for SSD is reconsideration. In this step, a Social Security representative not involved in the original decision will review your claim for benefits. They may request further information from you or order further medical tests. Once they have the information they need, they will make a decision, either granting you benefits or denying you benefits.
Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge
If your claim is denied at the reconsideration level, the next step is to pursue a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). The ALJ will have had no part in the original determination of your application or the reconsideration process. Hearings can be held by phone or video conference at this time.
Appeals Council review
If the ALJ denies your claim for benefits, the next step is to pursue a review by the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council will either make a decision granting you benefits, denying you benefits, or returning your case to an ALJ for further review.
Federal Court review
If the Appeals Council denies your application for benefits, the next step is to pursue an appeal in federal court, and, if you are denied, in the Court of Appeals where you live.
Learn more about SSD appeals
Being denied SSD benefits is discouraging, but help is available. This post is for educational purposes only and does not provide legal advice. Our firm’s website on SSD benefits may be of interest – please check us out.