What can I do if my Social Security disability benefits claim is denied?

If your application for SSDI or SSI benefits is denied, you should appeal your denied claim. You do not want to go through the process of submitting a new application.

Pay attention to the date listed on the Notice of Denial letter that you receive in the mail. You have 60 days from that date to submit a Request for Reconsideration. At this stage, you will ask for a different DDS examiner and medical consultant to review your case. (Note: Although the Request for Reconsideration stage is available in Virginia, it is not available in 10 states. You should check with your lawyer about the first stage of appeal in your state.)

If your claim is denied a second time, you will have 60 days from the second denial date in which to submit a request for a hearing before an administrative law judge.

The disability benefits hearing would take place at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) that is closest to your home. You can also choose to go through your hearing by video.

The good news is that nearly 40 percent of claims reviewed in Virginia at the hearing stage are approved. The bad news is that you may have to wait as long as two years for your hearing to be held. (However, your lawyer from Marks & Harrison can explore any options available to expedite the process.)

If your claim is denied at the hearing stage, you can continue to appeal to the SSA Appeals Council in Falls Church or, if necessary, file a lawsuit in the nearest U.S. District Court.