Getting a denial letter about your social security disability claim can be disappointing at first, but you must remember that this is commonplace and there is only one thing that you can do to move forward: begin the appeals process.

The denial rate for initial claims is about 65% nationwide, so you are actually part of the majority when it comes to the social security disability process. The statistics may seem daunting, but it is more important now than ever to make sure that you have everything in order to make your case.

A Denial is not the End of Your Case

Getting a denial letter from the Social Security Administration is not the end of your case, it is actually just the beginning. It does not mean that you are not disabled and that you will not get access to social security benefits.

The biggest mistake that you can make in the SSD claims process is to not file an appeal within the 60 day window of your denial letter. Failure to appeal in time may mean that you have to start back at the beginning of the claims process, which is sure to cause further financial hardship and emotional distress.

Although it may seem like an uphill battle, there are two things that you can do to get closer to your benefits: keep your chin up, and file a reconsideration.

How Does the Appeal Process Work?

There are four parts to the appeal process:
1. Reconsideration
2. Hearing by an administrative judge
3. Review by the Appeals Council
4. Federal Court review


A reconsideration is the beginning of the appeals process and means that your case will be completely reviewed by someone who did not partake in the first decision. All evidence previously submitted as well as any new evidence will be taken into consideration.

The biggest mistake at this phase is to miss the filing deadline, which is 60 days from the date that you receive your denial letter. Appealing a decision is becoming easier. You can submit your reconsideration request and supplementary documentation online.

Disability Hearing

If you disagree with the reconsideration decision, you may request a disability hearing. This is the phase of the process where the majority of cases are approved.

The hearing is conducted by an administrative law judge who was not involved in the original review or reconsideration of your case. You may submit new information at this time that will further solidify the information that has already been provided.

At the hearing, you will appear before the judge with your lawyer, if you have one. The judge will question you and any witnesses that are present. Medical or vocational experts are useful for more elaborate information during this hearing.

Appeals Council

If you disagree with the hearing decision, the next step is to request a review from the Social Security Appeals Council. The Appeals Council will review the case in it’s entirety, and may deny a request if they believe that the hearing decision was correct. If the Appeals Council decides to review your case, it may issue a decision on your behalf, or return it an administrative law judge who will review it further.

Federal Court

If you disagree with the Appeals Council decision, or if the Appeals Council decides not to review your case, you may file a lawsuit in a federal district court.

What are my Chances of Winning?

The majority of social security disability claims are denied because there wasn’t enough medical evidence to prove the case. The most important thing that you can do for your SSD case is to file the necessary reconsideration request and disability hearing requests in a timely manner with the necessary information. The sooner that the paperwork is filed for your reconsideration and disability appeal, the sooner you will be able to win your claim.

Making sure that your case is well documented by maintaining records of every medical appointment and diagnosis, and persevering through the denial letters is the best way to ensure that you are awarded social security benefits. You can also review our 5 Tips to Winning Your Social Security Case, which may provide more insight into the process.

When Should I Hire a Lawyer?

If you intend to hire a social security disability lawyer for your reconsideration, it is important that you do it as soon as you receive your denial letter. Putting this off until the last minute means that valuable time is being wasted that your lawyer could better use to gather information regarding your case.

An attorney must be able to gather the required paperwork in order to examine your case and waiting too long to do this means there may not be enough time to complete the forms. Having a lawyer on your side will help to make sure that all paperwork is filed correctly and on time. A lawyer will also be able to assist you to make sure that you are receiving the correct information from your doctors that will help your case.

At Seff & Capizzi Law Group, we regularly assist clients with their SSD cases and provide valuable information for those who are interested in filing appeals from their initial denial. We are happy to assist clients in filing their reconsideration claims after the Social Security Administration issues their initial denial. If you are looking to file your initial SSD case claim, you can download our guide here and file your application online here.

If you need assistance with your SSD reconsideration case, please call us at (954) 920-9220. We have over 35 years of experience and offer a free consultation. We do not charge an up-front fee for social security legal representation. Click here for more information about social security disability and how Seff & Capizzi can help.