Someone who has a disabling medical condition that will affect them for a year or longer and that prevents them from engaging in any gainful activity could potentially qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
Quite a few people who apply for SSDI end up denied by the SSA instead of approved. Applicants may need to formally appeal an unfavorable determination in their cases after receiving a rejection letter.
Some appeals are largely technical
The letter from the SSA notifying someone of the denial of their benefits will typically include a clear explanation for the SSA’s decision. The most common reasons include insufficient medical evidence about the severity of someone’s condition and technical mistakes on the SSDI paperwork. In some cases, people simply need help to correct the errors on their applications or to gather more thorough and compelling medical evidence affirming their inability to work and, therefore, their need for SSDI benefits.
The first stage of the SSDI appeals process is reconsideration. This involves another SSA worker’s review of the corrected and expanded application after someone requests an appeal. If that reconsideration process isn’t successful, then the applicant will need to wait for a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. That judge can review the application and medical evidence and possibly hear testimony from medical professionals and other expert witnesses. In certain rare cases, those who are unsuccessful in front of an administrative law judge may take their case on to higher, less common forms of appeal.
Small mistakes can lead to big delays
Errors in both an initial application and in the appeals process can end up significantly increasing how long it takes someone to get benefits and increasing the challenges they will have to overcome as they appeal.
Especially when an applicant for SSDI wants to make use of special rules or has a very unusual situation, they will likely benefit from seeking legal guidance. Knowing what to expect when appealing an SSDI claim can help people to improve their chances of getting the benefits they need.