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SSDI denial…what the heck?

Workers are often surprised when they receive an SSDI denial. Guess what? They shouldn’t be. In fact, the SSA estimates that as many as 70% of disability applicants receive an SSDI denial. Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “I filed for disability and waited months for a decision. When I did hear from the SSA they sent me an SSDI denial stating I could go back to work. What are my options for getting SSDI benefits?”

It can be frustrating and disappointing when you receive an SSDI denial, but the good news is you really do have several options and only one of them is trying to go back to work and retrain for some type of new employment.

Appealing my SSDI denial


The first step before determining what you need to do after your SSDI denial is to review your SSDI denial letter. Not only does it tell you why you were denied, it will also tell you what options you have to appeal your SSDI denial. If you are allowed to appeal your SSDI denial you have three levels of appeal within Social SecurityÂ’s system: reconsideration (not offered in all states), administrative hearing, and Appeals Council review. If you are denied at all three of these levels you may file a claim in Federal court, but this is outside of the SSA appeals process.

Can I appeal my SSDI denial?         


Although many SSDI denials can be appealed, some cannot. For instance, if the SSA states that you do not have enough work credits for SSDI benefits you may be able to challenge your SSA work credit record and prove them wrong, assuming the SSA does not have all of your work history or their data is incorrect. If you have not paid enough taxes and really do not have enough work credits, however, appealing your SSDI denial for insufficient work credits will not do any good.

First step in the SSDI appeals process


Assuming you do have a valid appeal, the first step in the appeals process is called the reconsideration. You may file a reconsideration for a variety of reasons. For example, if the SSA states you can retrain for new work, but you are able to get more information from your doctor which proves you do not have the residual functional capacity to work, you may appeal their decision. You may also be able to appeal the SSDI denial if they state that your condition will not last 12 continuous months but you have information which supports that it will.

Social Security Request for Reconsideration


If you decide to file a reconsideration appeal it must be done within 60 days from the date of your denial letter. In most cases, the SSA will simply take your original claim and have another disability examiner review it. If you want to improve your case, however, it may be a good idea to submit new evidence.

Social Security Disability Hearings


The second SSDI appeal step after a SSDI denial is to request an administrative hearing. Unfortunately, it can take up to one to two years to get a hearing scheduled with the SSA. The hearing, however, is generally your best chance to win benefits and allows you to present evidence and witnesses for your claim. You can also hire a disability lawyer to argue your case.

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