What should I do when my disability claim has been denied?

Have you applied for Social Security Disability but your claim has been DENIED? If so, you’re in the right place.

You are frustrated because you have submitted your medical records and answered all the questions SSA asked – but you have still been DENIED.

A denied claim is not the end of the road; you have the right to appeal.

How do you appeal a SSDI denial?

Here’s how the process works:

What should I do if my disability claim is denied?In Louisiana, upon receiving your denial letter, you have 60-days to file a Request for Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (SSA Form HA-501). 

During the hearing, you will likely testify, you or your representative may call witnesses, and there may be governmental paid-for experts that testify. 

The testimonies and evidence in your claim file will be carefully reviewed, and a decision will then be made.

If the ALJ’s decision is still not favorable, you may appeal to the Social Security Appeals Council. 

Similar to the ALJ, the Appeals Council will review all evidence in your case and either reach a decision itself or refer your case back to the ALJ. It’s important to point out that although the Appeals Court considers every request for review, it may decide to not to consider your request and thus the ALJ’s decision will stand.

If you still disagree with the decision up to this point, your final step is to submit your case to Federal District Court for review. Here, at this final step in the process, a district court judge will review the evidence in the case and order a determination on whether the SSA‘s decision should be overturned.

Although the disability appeal process may seem long and cumbersome, it’s important to note that you do have the right to appeal your case. 

It is also important to note that you cannot skip any step.  That is, you cannot take your case straight to federal court if you are not happy with the initial decision.  You have to go to the ALJ first, then the Appeals Council, before getting to federal court.

Do you know why your application was denied?

The first step to an appeal is knowing why your claim was denied.

The letter the SSA sent you to tell you that your SSDI claim was denied can provide you some insight. But do you know what the letter means when it says – We have determined that you can perform your past work? What about when the letter says – We have determined that you are not disabled from performing work generally available in the region.

Do you know what you need to do to give yourself the best shot of succeeding in your appeal? Do you know what specific medical records can help establish that your disability meets a listing, and thus qualify you for social security disability? Do you how a medical source statement can be used to dramatically increase your chances of success on appeal?

An SSDI attorney familiar with the specific rules and laws of the social security system can be the difference between you getting disability benefits and not.

Did you receive a denial or termination of benefits letter and are unsure of the next steps?  We will review your denial letter with no cost and no obligation and give you a detailed strategy for moving forward.

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Loyd J. Bourgeois
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Nationally recognized lawyer and author dedicated to fighting life's legal battles with compassion and care