Someone who is applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits has probably worked to support themselves for years. All of a sudden, an injury or worsening health issue leaves them unable to continue in their chosen profession.
Not only do they have medical expenses to worry about, but they are also likely grappling with a sudden loss of income while they are still too young to retire. Most people do not have enough savings to support themselves and their family members after a medical emergency, so SSDI benefits can be a crucial safety net for those no longer able to work due to a serious, qualifying health condition.
People may feel panicked about the future if they receive a rejection letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Thankfully, it is possible to appeal an unfavorable determination about SSDI benefits.
The SSA offers multiple stages of appeal
It is quite common for people to receive a rejection initially, so there is a well-established appeals system for SSDI benefits. The first stage of appeal is called a reconsideration. People can correct mistakes on their paperwork or submit additional medical documentation. Then, a different professional from the SSA will review their application. Sometimes, a new person reviewing the application will decide in favor of the applicant.
If a reconsideration is not successful, people will then request a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. Typically, there will be an extended wait for such hearings. Still, attending a hearing gives someone an opportunity to present evidence ranging from additional medical documentation to the testimony of coworkers and medical professionals that might make all the difference.
Even when a hearing is not successful, there are two additional levels of appeal sometimes available to applicants. People can ask the Appeals Council to review the decision of the administrative law judge. If even that fails, then someone can file an action in the United States District Court. A noteworthy portion of applicants do end up getting their benefits during an appeal, making them a worthwhile endeavor for those unable to work because of a disabling medical condition.
Knowing what steps to take after a rejected application may help those who believe they qualify for and require SSDI benefits to receive what they’re rightfully due. Seeking legal guidance can help to provide that necessary clarity.