How do I appeal the denial of Social Security benefits?

Whether you have applied for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits, there is the chance that the Social Security Administration (SSA) will deny your claim for benefits. Fortunately, there is a simple process that you can follow in order to appeal, or ask for another review, of the denial of your application for Social Security benefits.

Three Step Process for Appealing a Denial of Benefits

There is a three-step process that you must follow in order to request an appeal of the denial of benefits. 

  1. First, you must complete an Appeal Request form, which asks the SSA to review your case again. 
  2. Second, you need to complete an Appeal Disability Report, which gives the SSA more information about your medical condition. 
  3. Third and finally, you should complete an Authorization to Disclose Information to SSA form, which gives your medical providers permission to give information to the SSA about your medical condition. 

You can appeal the denial of your benefits by calling the SSA at 1-800-772-1213, or by visiting your local SSA office, and advising SSA that you want to appeal the denial of your claim for benefits.

After Your Appeal Forms are Received

Once the SSA receives the forms listed above, they will forward your application to the office that makes decisions about people’s disability claims. They will review your forms and request any new medical records from your doctors, and then make a decision about your claim. You also have the right to request an in-person appointment for the review of your claim. Once a decision has been made on your case, you will receive that decision in writing.

Four Different Levels of Appeal

There are four different levels of appeals from the denial of a disability claim. You have the right to have an attorney represent you at each level, or you can represent yourself in at least three of the four levels of appeals. When you have applied for disability benefits and the SSA denies your application, you begin with the first level of appeal, or reconsideration. This sends your case to the State Disability Determination Office, which reconsiders your case. If SSA still denies your claim after reconsideration, the next level of appeal requires a hearing before an administrative law judge. It can take several months before this hearing is scheduled, and you can meet in person with the judge if you choose. Once the judge makes a decision, he or she will send you a decision in writing.

If the administrative law judge still denies your claim for disability benefits, you can then ask that your case be sent for an appeals council review. You cannot complete this stage of the appeals process online, but must do so by contacting your local SSA office. Once you request this type of appeal, SSA will send your case to the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, which, again, may take several months to review your case. The final stage of appeal involves filing a lawsuit against SSA in the federal district court system, and you are well-advised to seek the assistance of an attorney at this level of appeal.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

Related Topics In This Section

Search LawInfo's Appealing a Social Security Disability Denial Resources

Lead Counsel Rated Law Firm

Click Here to Learn More