If you’re like most people, you have probably been denied after your first application for Social Security disability, or SSDI. Like most people, you’re also probably wondering what to do next. You assume you have to appeal the decision, and know that you may have to appeal beyond that, but your biggest concern is simply getting the benefits that you so greatly need.

The Confusing World of SSDI Appeals

People say that the SSDI benefit application process can feel like it takes forever, and if you are finding that your efforts are continuously blocked by the Social Security Administration (SSA), you may be feeling that way, yourself.

In reality, the SSDI application process isn’t what takes so long—it’s the many levels of appealing a denial that can take up months of your life. Appealing is not an endless back-and-forth you engage in with the SSA—it is actually much more straightforward and a tiered, step-by-step process as follows:

  • First Step: Reconsideration Request. Your first move in an appeal is called a reconsideration. Your claim will be reexamined by a claims examiner and medical consultant who were not involved with your initial application.
  • Second Step: ALJ Hearing Request. If your reconsideration ends in another denial, your next move is to request a hearing with an administrative law judge, or ALJ. You must request this hearing within 60 days of your denial, so moving quickly is important. Most people succeed at obtaining their benefits as this level, especially with the assistance of a disability attorney.
  • Third Step: Appeals Council Review. If your ALJ hearing is not successful, you can request a review by the Appeals Council. This council does not review every case; it generally will only grant a review if the ALJ made a grave procedural error.
  • Fourth Step: File a Lawsuit. When you file a lawsuit against the SSA, it is a massive undertaking. A federal judge will review your case, but getting to that point can be very time-consuming and expensive.

Fortunately, most SSDI applicants’ journeys end successfully at the second step. In order to ensure that your appeals process is as short as possible, it is important to consult an attorney who is experienced in Social Security disability applications and appeals to give your claim the best odds possible. Speak to my firm today to learn how we can help you—pick up the phone or click on the live chat feature to be connected now!

Manfred Ricciardelli
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Morristown Workers' Compensation Lawyer