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Reconsideration: What it is and how to prepare

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If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again. It’s one of the most well-known phrases, and a lesson in perseverance. Fortunately, this pearl of wisdom applies to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) applications.

Most SSDI applicants are initially denied. The process, however, provides these people a second chance at success. It starts with something called reconsideration.

The first level of appeal

Reconsideration is the first way a denied SSDI applicant can appeal the decision. If the initial determination goes against you, you can make a written request for reconsideration – though this must be done within 60 days.

What happens during reconsideration? The Social Security Administration reviews your claim once again. However, this review is done by someone who was not involved in the initial determination. It is, in essence, a second set of fresh eyes.

However, you also have the opportunity to improve your application. During reconsideration, the reviewer will not just go over your initial application. They will also take into account new evidence you provide within the required timeframe. This could be additional medical records, for example, financial statements, work history, or anything else that helps them better understand your situation.

What happens if reconsideration doesn’t go the right way?

Reconsideration can result in the same decision from the Social Security Administration. However, it is only the first level of the appeals process. In order to get to the next steps, you generally have to go through reconsideration.

If you are denied during reconsideration, the next possible steps are:

  • A hearing in front of an administrative law judge
  • A review by the Social Security Appeals Council
  • Filing a lawsuit in federal court

An effective appeal, at any stage of the process, requires careful preparation. This means poring through your case up to this point, determining why exactly the Social Security Administration is denying your claim, and then providing detailed evidence to rebut their assertions. You can choose to have an attorney help with all of this, freeing you to spend time on other matters.

Whatever you choose to do, know that an initial denial is not a dead end. In fact, for many applicants, it is just the beginning.