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You apply for disability benefits, only to find that the Social Security Administration (SSA) denied your claim. Many get discouraged and decide not to pursue further action, however, but a denial doesn’t mean you’ve been blocked from claiming benefits.

Instead, claimants can appeal two times after being initially denied in the SSD system, through a process known as Reconsideration (first appeal) and then a request for hearing (second appeal).

65 percent of those applying for disability benefits find themselves in this position. Rather than re-apply all over again, considered the worst approach in this case, follow these steps:

Immediately Request an Appeal

You have a 60-day deadline after the first denial. Even if you have yet to seek legal representation, it’s better to file first and then contact a lawyer. Usually, claimants have the best chance of receiving their benefits after an appeal.

Hire a Disability Lawyer

The SSD application process is complex, and involves significant documentation in order to clarify your claim. Experienced legal help assists with identifying why a claim was denied in the first place, and what you need to have for the appeal.

Find Out Why Your Claim Was Denied
There are several reasons the SSA denied your claim, and this can frame your next steps:

  • The SSA thinks you can do other jobs based on your residual functional capacity (RFC).
  • You didn’t present enough medical evidence to prove your case.
  • You didn’t provide sufficient work history.
  • The doctor’s reports did not have complete or up-to-date information.
  • You already earn more than $1000* per month.
  • Your current condition won’t last longer than 12 months.
  • You didn’t follow the doctor’s recommended treatments.

Start Assembling Documents

With the assistance of a lawyer, begin assembling the necessary documentation for your claim. This may involve putting together a thorough picture of your medical history. In these instances, you’ll have to contact your physician to obtain all crucial records. Trantolo & Trantolo can assist and work with you to take this effort off of your shoulders.

Realize the Process Takes Longer Than Expected

In Reconsideration, your claim is reviewed a second time. The process takes about four months.

However, 85 percent of all claims are still denied at this phase. If this happens, the next step is requesting an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing.

Should your benefits still not be approved, you have the right to appeal to the SSA’s Appeals Council, who then reviews the hearing decision and has the power to send cases back when the judge is believed to have made a mistake. A small percentage of claims, at this stage, may also be reversed.

If your claim continues to be denied, you have the option of appealing the decision to your state’s Federal District Court.

* Amount of earnings based on work activity.