The long and exhausting process of applying for Social Security Disability benefits can be discouraging to many. The process is lengthy, and most applications aren’t approved. Before 2019, an applicant in California would have to reapply after a denial, a process which would likely take over a year. However, the state now has a reconsideration process. This process is your best bet to get your application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) approved and has several levels of appeal.
Initial Steps After Initial SSDI Application Denial
Once you’ve received a denial for your first application, you have 60 days to appeal. Failing to meet this deadline will require you to restart the application process, which is significantly slower. The sooner you start the appeal process, the sooner a decision can be reached.
Most initial applications aren’t approved. This could be the result of:
- A lack of hospital and medical records
- Incomplete information
- Lack of evidence
- Failure to include previous work history
- Not enough information explaining why you can’t perform any level of work
There are several steps to the appeal process when trying to request a reconsideration of your SSDI application claim. These appeals are:
- Administrative law judicial hearing
- Review by Appeals Council
- Review by Federal Court
These appeals processes can be made faster and more effective with assistance from a disability attorney or representative. A disability representative will be able to see the information needed on a reconsideration form, communicate with the Social Security Administration (SSA), and ensure you meet reconsideration request deadlines. If further appeals are necessary, a disability attorney can also represent you in a hearing.
The Request for Reconsideration Process
The reconsideration process is made to be shorter than the initial application decision. Normally, a decision will be reached in two to three months. Since the appeal is sent to the same office and takes place with the same agency, your information is readily available, and much case development has already occurred. Your information and application are reviewed by an examiner who did not work on your first application.
Ideally, the process only takes a couple of months before the decision reaches you. However, a reconsideration appeal can also last as long as five months. Several factors can stretch out the process, ranging from the number of cases your examiner has to the disruptions of the global pandemic. The specific circumstances of your case could also slow down the process — for example, if many new medical records need to be requested and processed. A case would also be affected by your needs for surgery, further medical complications like a stroke or heart attack, or if multiple medical examinations are needed. All these factors would require a reevaluation of the case facts and delay the process.
Likelihood of Reconsideration Appeal Approval
Although the examiner of your application may be different, this doesn’t give you better chances at approval. New or updated information will improve your odds because the reconsideration process is evaluated using the same rules as the initial application.
It’s for this reason that the reconsideration level of appeals has the lowest number of approvals. For reconsideration to be approved for Social Security Disability, it’s likely that either the examiner needs to have made a mistake, your initial application failed to provide enough important information, or there has been a change in medical circumstances. The denial rate is very high in the reconsideration process, but the other levels of appeal have better odds.
Q: What is reconsideration?
A: A reconsideration is an entire review of someone’s previously denied application for Social Security Disability Insurance by an examiner who wasn’t involved in the initial decision. Nationwide, more than half of the applicants for SSDI are denied, and reapplication often requires extended waiting periods. This is why the reconsideration policy was instituted in many states that didn’t yet have the process, including California, beginning in 2019. This process is meant to speed up the review of denials. It’s a faster way of appealing the decision for SSDI benefits, which is meant to take several months rather than over a year.
Q: What is the SSDI reconsideration process?
A: In reconsideration, an examiner who wasn’t involved in the first application denial will review the information in your application along with any additional information. You’ll want to include any updates regarding treatments, doctor visits, or work activity. You should also review your first application to make sure that all relevant and necessary information is accurate and included. Ensuring these changes were added and submitting the reconsideration appeal quickly can help with your reconsideration approval.
Q: How long does the reconsideration phase take for SSDI?
A: From start to finish, the process generally takes three to five months. Once a decision has been reached on your reconsideration, you’ll receive a letter with the decision and information about it. Different factors could impact the speed of that decision, from the examiner’s workload to delays in receiving new medical records to special circumstances. If your reconsideration is denied, there are further appeals you can make.
Q: What percentage of SSDI is reconsideration approved?
A: Because the reconsideration process works by the same laws as the initial SSDI application, it’s likely the same decision will be reached unless there are new circumstances or the first application was missing key information. About 86% of the appeals in the reconsideration phase are also denied.
How to Complete SSDI Appeals Quickly and Accurately
The more certain you can be that all accurate and necessary information is included in your reconsideration appeal for SSDI benefits, the better. Though the approval rates for this part of the process are less than ideal, the approval rates for those with disability attorneys or representatives are much higher. A qualified disability attorney can ensure that your appeals are on the correct track and sent off with all the information needed. Further, the next appeals step is a hearing, which is where many cases are won with an experienced disability attorney. See how our expert attorneys at Gade & Parekh can help you with your appeals for SSDI.