How to Appeal a Denial of Disability Benefits

January 27, 2021 | By Riddle & Brantley Accident Injury Lawyers
How to Appeal a Denial of Disability Benefits

Wondering how to file a disability appeal?

If you’re reading this article, you may be among the majority of Social Security Disability applicants who are denied benefits when they first file an application. It is critical that you appeal a disability denial quickly and properly so that you do not lose the ability to claim the benefits you are entitled to receive.

How to Appeal a Denial for Disability Benefits - Riddle & Brantley

LET US HELP: Call 1-800-525-7111 for a FREE, no-obligation consultation. You won’t pay any attorney fees unless you receive benefits.

“Can I just start over and apply for disability again?”

You may have been told by someone at your local DDS or SSA office, or by a well-meaning family member or friend, that you can just start over with a new disability application after you are denied.

This is usually a bad idea for several reasons:

  • It restarts all the waiting periods that apply to all applications for benefits, and they can be lengthy.
  • A new application is unlikely to be successful unless you do something about the deficiencies that caused your first application to be denied.
  • Your odds of winning your case on an appeal are much higher than they are on a new application. This is especially true if you get help from a knowledgeable, experienced disability attorney.

The point is this:

Having your initial application for disability benefits denied does NOT mean you do not have a strong case.

Should I Appeal a Denial of Disability Benefits - Riddle & Brantley

Often, it just means that the person who evaluated your claim at the first level did not do so properly. The further up the chain of the appeals process you go, the better your overall odds of winning your case become. We actually broke down the odds of getting approved for disability at the various levels in a recent article.

If your initial application for disability was denied, you are NOT alone.

In one recent calendar year, over 2.3 million people filed applications for disability benefits. A little less than a third of those were denied for technical reasons having nothing to do with whether the person was disabled or not; they simply were not eligible for benefits for any one of a number of reasons.

Taking that 1/3 out of the equation leaves about 1.6 million applications. Of those, a little over a third were approved for benefits, leaving about 1 million denied applications. These were the people who needed to file appeals! And here is why: of those 1 million people who were told “no” at the first level, only about half filed appeals to the next level…and of that one half, roughly 10% were approved at the next level (called “reconsideration”) and another 50+% were approved after a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge!

This is important so it’s worth repeating: having your initial application for disability benefits denied does NOT mean you do not have a strong case. Many thousands of people who were told “no” when they first applied for disability benefits eventually RECEIVED those benefits by filing timely appeals and presenting their cases properly.

We may be able to help. For a FREE, no-obligation consultation with an experienced North Carolina disability lawyer, please call 1-800-525-7111. There is no obligation and there are no attorney fees unless we get you the benefits you need and deserve.

“How do I appeal for disability benefits?”

If you're wondering how to file an appeal for disability, here's an outline of the general process:

First, if you are denied benefits at the initial (first) stage, the agency’s denial letter to you explains how to appeal: you must make a written “request for reconsideration” with the Social Security Administration, either in writing or online, within 60 days of the date you receive your initial denial.

Next, if your request for reconsideration is also denied, you appeal by asking the SSA for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). You must do this either online (followed by printing and signing the online request and mailing it to the SSA) or by simply submitting a letter asking for a hearing to the SSA. This request for a hearing must also be submitted within 60 days of the reconsideration-level denial.

Next, if you request and have a hearing before an ALJ and are denied benefits again at that level, you can ask the Appeals Council (AC) to review the ALJ’s decision. You must ask for AC review within 60 days of the date of the ALJ’s unfavorable decision. The request must be in writing and may, but does not have to, be made via a special form for this purpose (form “HA-520”).

And next, if the AC declines to overturn the ALJ’s unfavorable decision, your next level of appeal is to the Federal District Court in your state and region. This is done by filing a federal lawsuit naming the Commissioner of Social Security as the defendant and asking a federal judge to overturn the ALJ’s decision. Here again, your federal lawsuit must be filed within 60 days of the AC’s denial. There are specific requirements for the documents to be included in a federal lawsuit, and they can be complicated.

“Do I need an attorney to appeal a disability denial?”

Do I Need a Lawyer to Appeal a Disability Denial - Riddle & Brantley

There is no requirement that you be represented by an attorney at ANY of these appeal levels. However, your odds of success go up significantly at every step along this road when you have help from a lawyer.

In fact, just 34 percent of those applying for disability benefits without representation are ultimately approved. However, that percentage climbs to roughly 60 percent when the claim is handled by a disability attorney.

At Riddle & Brantley, our disability attorneys have been helping North Carolinians get the benefits they deserve since 1985.

“It is an honor and a privilege helping North Carolinians with disabilities get the benefits they need and deserve.”

For a FREE, no-obligation consultation with an experienced disability lawyer handling claims and disability appeals in North Carolina, please call 1-800-525-7111.

You can also complete the short form below if you prefer.

There is never any obligation and we don’t get paid unless you receive Social Security disability benefits. It’s as simple as that.

Let us review your case and advise you on your legal options. Even if you’ve been previously denied, you may still qualify for benefits and we would love to help however we can.

Our attorneys handle disability claims involving all types of disabilities and injuries, including:

Please call 1-800-525-7111 today and let’s review your claim.

Justice Counts for North Carolinians with disabilities and we would love the opportunity to talk with you and see how we can help. Don’t gamble with the benefits you deserve ­— call 1-800-525-7111 today and let’s talk.