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What does an SSDI benefits appeal usually involve?

On Behalf of | Mar 7, 2024 | Social Security Disability

A working adult who decides to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits has likely experienced significant medical issues. SSDI benefits are typically only available for those who have historically worked and contributed to the Social Security program and who now have a debilitating medical condition that affects their ability to continue working.

Many people apply for benefits after their doctor informs them that their chances of recovery are minimal. They may not have any current household income and may worry about their ability to maintain their housing and provide for their families. Even those in desperate straits  coping with debilitating symptoms sometimes receive rejection notices instead of approval letters from the Social Security Administration (SSA).

These people may then worry about eviction, aggressive debt collection efforts and other financial issues. Thankfully, appeals are an option for those who believe they should qualify for SSDI but do not get approved when they apply.

Appeals begin with an internal review

The first stage of the SSDI appeals process is reconsideration. Reconsideration involves having a different employee at the SSA go over someone’s application, any corrections to their application and any supplemental materials that they submitted after their initial rejection. The reconsideration process is internal and may occur relatively quickly after an initial rejection. However, it has a relatively low rate of success. Many people have to request a hearing in court.

An administrative law judge can help

If the reconsideration process is not successful, an applicant can request a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. Such hearings can give an applicant’s lawyer an opportunity to present evidence. Additional medical documentation and expert testimony could help convince a judge that an applicant meets the current standards for SSDI benefits. Hearings tend to have a slightly higher approval rating when compared with reconsideration, but not everyone prevails after presenting their case to a judge.

Some applicants may need to go on to federal court or the Appeals Council to receive the due consideration that they deserve given their current medical challenges. Understanding what to expect during the SSDI appeals process and proactively seeking legal guidance could help an applicant secure the benefits that they require.