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What to do when Social Security disability benefits are denied

For nearly 60 years, many disabled Americans, including some in Tennessee, have been able to collect Social Security Disability Insurance benefits to help them meet living expenses. Getting these benefits, however, is not always easy, and many applicants' first applications are denied. Fortunately, every applicant has the right to appeal any decision made by the Social Security Administration, including decisions to end benefits if a person no longer qualifies for monthly payments.

When SSA officials have denied Social Security Disability Insurance payments, an applicant can file an appeal in order to reverse that decision. Additional appeals can be filed after denials at any of the four stages in the appeals process -- a reconsideration hearing, a full hearing, an appeals council review and in federal court.

In a reconsideration hearing, an SSA official will review the application and the initial judgment and make a second ruling that either reverses or confirms the original ruling. Each additional appeal stage offers the same opportunity for review and reversal or confirmation of the preceding decision.

An SSA denial of an applicant's SSDI claim starts an appeals clock. An appeal must be filed within 60 days; if a claim is not appealed within that time, the applicant most likely will lose the person's right to file any further request for SSDI benefits. Only in exceptional cases such as when a claimant or attorneys representing the claimant can show a good reason for the delay will the time limit be extended.

All appeals must be filed in writing or online. Given the time limit prescribed for appeals, many claimants prefer online applications to save time. Given that the process can still be complicated and require further documentation than is typically submitted by a first-time applicant, the advice of a legal professional may be highly beneficial.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Your right to question the decision made on your claim," Accessed on April 24, 2015

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We serve clients throughout the United States. We charge no fees in disability cases unless we recover benefits for you. To schedule your free consultation with a Social Security Disability lawyer, call 800-945-4950 or contact us by email.

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