The Social Security Disability Appeal Process

Disability Appeal
The Social Security Disability appeal process is considered difficult by most applicants who must face it. According to, about two-thirds of all first-time Social Security Disability income (SSDI) applicants are denied. Most claimants report that Social Security Disability application takes hours to complete. Others worry that the application submitted is incomplete despite their best efforts to follow Social Security Administration’s (SSA) directions.

If you’re legitimately disabled, don’t get discouraged by the Social Security Disability Appeal process. There are several appeal levels. Read SSA’s instructions with care and follow each step to the letter and, if the desire to submit a successful claim trumps all, contact an experienced Social Security disability lawyer.

Pay Attention

If you’re denied SSDI benefits and you want to appeal SSA’s decision, you must consider four levels of appeal. Each appeal differs from others by the time frame in which the respondent must write about the reason for his or her appeal of the SSDI rejection.

Pay attention to the date by which you must respond. To achieve best results, reply to the decision as soon as possible. Respond directly to the reason stated for the SSDI denial and take the precise steps in the letter that are required to appeal SSA’s decision.

Hire a Social Security Disability Lawyer

Not everyone has the ability to manage a Social Security Disability alone. Seek legal help right away. Most disability lawyers don’t require a retainer but receive a maximum of 25 percent or USD 6,000 from your back pay lump sum if you’re successfully awarded SSDI benefits.

If the disability lawyer is unsuccessful, you aren’t required to pay for his or her time. However, read the legal agreement concerning out-of-pocket costs, such as printing and postage. Some disability lawyers ask their clients to pay for these items.

Before signing the fee agreement, ask the lawyer what you’re required to pay. Don’t hire a disability lawyer on the advice of his or her paralegals. Speak directly with the disability lawyer and do some homework:

  • Ask the attorney for references. Contact the references provided and ask these former clients if they’d hire the attorney today.
  • Assess the lawyer’s accessibility. If you call the disability lawyer, he or she should return the call within a reasonable time.
  • Consider your feelings. If the disability lawyer makes you feel comfortable and takes the time to answer your questions, this may be the right disability law firm for you.

Attest to Dire Need

If you’re applying for SSDI because you can’t work, you may be experiencing dire financial need. Since SSA denies most SSDI applicants, there are many claimant appeals for the administrative judge to review. The backlog of SSDI hearings may go months or years—it’s possible that the delay in hearing your appeal can create financial strain and distress:

  • Send SSA a letter concerning your dire need, and describe the severity of your financial distress and circumstances.
  • If you face eviction, foreclosure, or you can’t pay for prescription medicines, explain this to Social Security as evidence of dire need. (Don’t create false urgency if your situation isn’t dire, though.)

Start a New SSDI Claim

The Social Security Disability appeal process requires optimism and stamina. At this point, instead of pursuing and revising a prior SSDI claim, you may decide to file a completely new application. This starts the process all over again. Perhaps your local SSA office will review the SSDI application with fresh eyes.

Hiring a Social Security disability lawyer may help at this time. Perhaps you’re frustrated and feeling burned out. Discuss how to prepare the new SSDI application and include any new information about your disability, medical condition, and prognosis. Attach current medical reports and evidence from your medical team with the application.

Don’t forget that people in the Social Security field office want to interact with friendly and respectful claimants. Write down the names of the people with whom you interact at Social Security, then check in on a regular basis about the status of your claim.