Many people are denied Social Security Disability Insurance the first time they apply. Being denied, however, is not the end of the road. You have the opportunity to appeal the decision in order to obtain the benefits you need. Before you do, it is important to understand the process ahead of you.
There are four levels to appealing an SSDI claim. The first is to seek a reconsideration. At this level, someone who did participate in the original decision will review your claim. You may submit new evidence at this point. Usually, you do not need to be present for the review. If the person reviewing your claim overturns the decision, you will be awarded benefits. If not, you can move on to the next level: a hearing before an administrative law judge.
Most often, you do need to be present for the hearing on your claim, and you may be asked for more information or to clarify existing evidence before the hearing takes place. You can bring witnesses, such as medical professionals, to the hearing to testify on your behalf. Your attorney may also accompany you. At the hearing, the administrative law judge will ask you and your witnesses questions about your condition. Once the hearing is complete, a decision will be made.
If your claim is denied again, you can request a review by the Appeals Council. The Appeal's Council may refuse to review your case. If so, you will receive a letter explaining why. If it does review your case, it will make a decision or send it back for another hearing.
Your final option if your claim is denied by the Appeals Council or another administrative law judge is to file a federal lawsuit.
As you can see, just because your initial claim is denied does not mean you will not get the benefits you need. However, the appeals process can be quite complex, which is why many people choose to work a lawyer who has experience handling SSDI appeals.