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How long is the reconsideration process and do I need a disability lawyer?

If you have filed for either Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you have probably waited 90 to 120 days for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to make their initial disability decision.

The bad news is that up to 70% of the initial disability applications are denied. What if your disability claim is denied? You will have to decide if you can return to work, if you want to file a new SSI or SSDI claim or if you want to request an appeal of the denial, which in most states is called a reconsideration.

The Reconsideration Process

First, if you decide you want to appeal your SSDI or SSI denial you must either file the reconsideration forms yourself or you must contact a SSD disability lawyer and have them complete the reconsideration for you. The reconsideration forms must be submitted to the Social Security Administration within 60 days from the date of the denial letter.

A Request for Reconsideration can be completed by you or your disability lawyer by filling out form (SSA-561). You must provide your name, Social Security number, the type of claim that you are appealing (listed on the notice of decision), the claim number (listed on the notice of decision), the reason for the appeal, your address and the contact information for your disability lawyer, if you have one.

Be sure to list why you are appealing the denial decision. Denials are made for both medical and nonmedical decisions. For instance, SSDI denials can be made if the SSA determines you have not worked long enough to be considered insured, your condition is not expected to last for at least 12 continuous months, you are currently working
too much, your condition is not considered severe, or the SSA believes you could work.

What happens in the Reconsideration Process?

Unfortunately, up to 80% of claimants are denied a second time in the reconsideration phase because the disability application is simply sent to another SSA disability examiner who reviews the claim a second time. Unless you have added additional medical information to your claim, it is unlikely your claim will be approved.

The request for reconsideration may take 30 to 90 days to complete. If you are approved for benefits the SSA will send you a letter detailing your payment amount and the estimated date of payment.

Should you hire a disability lawyer?

This is a great question, and there are several opinions. Some experts would suggest that it is a good idea to get a disability lawyer involved in your claim as soon as possible and have them complete your reconsideration appeal forms.

Others would suggest that if you hire them at this stage in the process and you win benefits, you will have to pay them but they may have done very little work for you.

What if you wait to hire a disability lawyer? It may not matter because unless you are one of the 20% of claimants who are approved at reconsideration, you most likely will have to hire one anyway if you decide to appeal your denial a second time and request a disability hearing.

Do you need a disability lawyer for your hearing?

Unless you understand how to read medical records, the judicial processes, the disability rules and regulations and you know how to argue your case in court in front of an Administrative Law Judge (who you have waited months to see), it is a good idea to hire a disability lawyer.