Fighting an SSD Denial: What You Need to Know

You’ve suffered an injury or developed a serious physical or mental condition that keeps you from working. You found out about Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits and applied. Then you got denied.

Before you lose heart or panic, know that it’s common to be denied when you first apply for SSD benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) gives you a path to appeal.


The process of overcoming a denial begins when you first apply. Make sure you understand the basic requirements for Social Security Disability benefits. This could help avoid complications later.

For example, if you discover you’re close to meeting the requirements, you might need to take extra care submitting the right documentation.

A central requirement for SSD benefits is that your injury or illness will keep you from gainful employment for at least one year.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t earn any money at all. You need to learn about the thresholds for how much money you can earn each month and still qualify for benefits.

Another requirement is that you have a medical or mental health problem the SSA lists as a qualifying condition. The SSA requires medical documentation of these conditions.

To show this, you’ll need to gather the right information from your health care providers.

Even if you meet the requirements and present plenty of documentation, you could still face an initial denial of your benefits.


If you received a denial of your Social Security Disability application, the program provides several steps for appeal. In most cases, the first step is to request a reconsideration of the decision.

The reconsideration goes to different people from those who reviewed and denied your claim the first time. So it gives you a chance at a fresh opinion.

Usually an SSA examiner and a medical professional conduct the reconsideration.

You can request a reconsideration either for the denial of an original claim, or for continuation of benefits you were receiving but the SSA terminated.

After a reconsideration – and sometimes, instead of it – is a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

You ask for a hearing if you aren’t satisfied with the reconsideration decision.

Going before a judge can be intimidating and stressful. But this is the level where many people win approvals of their benefits.

After the ALJ level, you could pursue an appeal to the SSA’s Appeals Council. After that, you could take your claim to federal court.

Obviously, the process of fighting your SSD denial can get detailed and long.


You can ease the burden you face in navigating this system by working with a Social Security Disability lawyer or another representative.

Having a representative often increases your chance of success in overturning a denial, according to the SSA. A professional can reduce the stress you feel as you go through a complicated process.

Qualifying for disability benefits isn’t always easy, even when you meet the requirements.

Expect bumps along the way, but don’t be afraid to contact a professional for help. Contact the experienced professionals at Levine Benjamin for assistance with your SSD benefits claim and a greater chance at success.


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Social Security Disability: Four Levels of Appeal

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