What to do if Your Social Security Benefits Are Denied

If you applied for Social Security disability benefits and received a denial, there’s no reason to panic – in fact, you probably should have been expecting it. The majority of initial claims – approximately 67 percent – are denied, and unfortunately, an even greater percentage of initial appeals for reconsideration is also rejected. Instead of giving up, take a close look at the reason for the denial so that you know what you need to do next.

When the Social Security Administration denies your request, their notification of denial will include an explanation of their reasoning. One of the most common reasons provided is the existence of jobs that you are still physically able to do: this will include details of what they call your “residual functional capacity,” which may cite your medical condition and jobs you’ve previously held and can hold again. Though it is alarming to see a rejection of your application written by people who don’t know you and seemingly have no real understanding of your condition or the limitations or difficulties you are facing, there is a good chance that they simply need more detailed medical information. You can provide this through the disability appeals process.

One of the keys to a successful appeal of a Social Security disability denial is to follow the instructions in the notice of denial that you’ve received. The first of these is to file a request for reconsideration of your original claim, which represents a review at a higher level and includes involvement by a medical consultant or examiner that was not involved in your initial denial.

If the reconsideration appeal is also denied, the next step is to request a hearing before an administrative law judge. These judges are generally attorneys who have worked within the department in a variety of positions.  This hearing must be requested within 60 days of receiving your denial. About half of all applicants who pursue this step will be successful and win their benefits.

If the administrative law judge rejects your appeal, you can request a review by the Appeals Council. Unfortunately, these requests are not always granted and can be dismissed without review unless you can show that a decision by an administrative law judge was not supported by evidence or some kind of abuse of discretion or procedural issue.

Your final option is to request a Federal court review. This is accomplished by filing a lawsuit in U.S. district court. These cases are not jury trials: they are heard by judges alone and are meant to only look for legal errors.

These cases can be complicated and time-consuming, but they can be successful if handled by an experienced Social Security benefits attorney. For information on how we can help, contact us today to set up an appointment.