Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal insurance program administered by the U.S. government. Millions of people living with different kinds of disabilities apply for benefits under this program. In 2019 alone, approximately 2.3 million people applied for assistance through SSDI.
Another U.S. government program designed to provide disability benefits, called Supplemental Security Income (SSI), saw more than 1.8 million applications during the same period. However, it is critical to understand that not every applicant will be approved for benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) rejects a high number of applications each year.
Approximately one out of every four Americans lives with some form of disabling conditions, but the SSA has strict regulations and laws regarding who may qualify for benefits under its disability programs. Only individuals who meet the eligibility criteria get approval, and most applicants receive a rejection upon applying for the first time.
In many cases, applicants for disability benefits fail to meet the necessary eligibility requirements. In other situations, applicants who should meet the requirements receive a rejection because they have completed the application form incorrectly. In these situations, despite your disability, your application for long-term or short term disability will likely be denied.
The Social Security Appeals Process Can Be Long
Before diving deeper, it is also important to remember that the disability over 50 program may have different rules to consider before you take any action. In general, after you file, the claims examiner usually will take about 100 days to review your application. Based on the review and the documents that you have submitted, the claims examiner will either approve or deny your claim. To improve your chances of success, be sure that you submit all of the documents that may be required.
If your claim is denied, you may seek reconsideration of your application. A small percentage of applicants get approved at the reconsideration stage, which can take a significant amount of time. If you are rejected at this stage as well, you may seek another level of appeal within 60 days of the denial.
The final stage of the appeals process is the hearing stage. The SSA uses these hearings to identify and evaluate how disabling a condition is. The hearings are usually held in small rooms, and they are administered by an administrative law judge and a hearing assistant.
It can take anywhere from six months to two years to get a date for your hearing. Therefore, you should remain patient as you wait for your hearing. In the meantime, you should prepare yourself for the hearing stage. The judge may ask you complicated and in-depth questions relating to your condition. You should prepare yourself with the answers to the most common questions.
To present the strongest case, you should never hesitate in front of the judge and you should answer questions confidently. Even after the hearing stage, you may have to wait for a few months to get the final decision.
For situations when your condition gets worse after you apply, you can submit evidence of those symptoms to the Disability Determination Services Office. It may help to reduce the overall time for the appeal process.
Tips for Succeeding on a Social Security Disability Appeal
The following tips can increase your chances of success in a Social Security disability claim appeal:
- Be on time. As mentioned above, you will not be able to appeal if you miss the deadline. Be sure to take any action within 60 days of receiving a denial.
- File the correct paperwork. To get reconsidered, you need to submit a few additional forms. Ensure that information that you provide is correct and meets the Social Security Office’s requirements. If you need any clarifications, you can call Social Security’s toll-free number or contact a legal professional.
- Get an opinion statement from your healthcare provider. You should consider getting a statement from your healthcare provider regarding how your disability limits your abilities to live and function properly. The statement should also identify how your condition is worsening day by day.
- Provide supporting evidence. There is a chance that your disability will get progressively worse over time. If you have new supporting evidence, you should consider submitting it to the claims evaluator. This may increase your chances of getting approved for disability benefits.
- Be honest. Many applicants become embarrassed when they talk about their medical condition. No matter what, you should be honest and communicate everything. Even if you experience seemingly minor symptoms, you should inform the authorities about them.
What to Do if Your Application Gets Rejected
After facing a denial, be sure to take the right steps immediately. If you miss the 60-day window to appeal, you may have to file a new application again.
In most cases, people face rejections on subsequent applications for benefits, as well. Industry veterans suggest hiring a disability lawyer to help you handle the process with the SSA. With a lawyer’s experience and knowledge, you may be able to avoid unnecessary denials.