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SSA Reconsideration - What's the hold up?

Most disability applicants are denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) at the initial application level. Some estimates put the denial rate at 70 to 75%. This means that out of the millions, yes millions, of applications there are thousands of applications which are rejected by the Social Security Administration and thousands of claimants who have decided to appeal their denial through an SSA reconsideration.

Recently on our disability forum we had an applicant ask, “I filed a SSA Reconsideration three months ago, when will I hear back from the SSA?” This is a great question and many disability applicants who are struggling to make ends meet without an income need an answer too.

When do I file a SSA Reconsideration?

If you have been denied SSDI or SSI benefits you should have been sent a letter explaining why you were denied. If you were denied for medical reasons you can appeal the SSDI or SSI denial through an SSA reconsideration within 60 days online or you can file Form SSA-561, Request for Reconsideration, Form SSA-3441, Disability Report - Appeal, and Form SSA-827, Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration.

Non-medical denials can also be appealed by completing Form SSA-561, Request for Reconsideration.

To expedite your SSDI or SSI case make sure all of the information you submit is accurate, and if the SSA calls you to request more information make sure you submit the information as soon as possible.

Why is the Reconsideration decision taking so long?

As mentioned above, there are millions of applications each year for SSDI and SSI and thousands more which are denied and then appealed. I wish the answer was more glamorous, but the truth of the matter is your Reconsideration is basically in a line behind thousands of other Reconsiderations which must be reviewed by a disability examiner. It is taking a long time because the SSA has limited staff and a limited amout of hours in a work day. It is that simple: the SSA is understaffed and overworked.

There are several things you can do to help your case at the SSA reconsideration level:

  1. Make sure the information you give the SSA is accurate.

  2. Make sure you have provided good medical evidence you are disabled.

  3. Make sure you return calls in a timely manner.

  4. Make sure you go to the consultative examiner if the SSA sends you to one.

  5. Check on your Reconsideration periodically to ensure it is flowing through the system.

  6. Don’t be impatient or rude to the SSA staff.

Can I get money while I await the decision or an evaluation at the SSA reconsideration level?

While you will get back payments back to the most recent application date (or date of disability for SSDI, less the 5 month waiting period) you generally do not get any type of payments while you await a decision. I say “generally” because there are a few exceptions. Talk to the SSA if you have questions or if you think you are eligible for what they term “emergency” payments.

Hiring a Disability Lawyer

Not everyone will need a disability lawyer, but some applicants find that without legal help and a solid understand of the disability process they flounder for weeks or months waiting for disability payments.

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