What should I do if my disability benefits claim is denied?

You can seek a reconsideration of the decision on your claim and, if needed, you can pursue further appeals. However, you will need to act quickly, or else you may lose your right to appeal.

When your claim is denied, you will receive a notice letter. The letter will have a date and state the reason why your claim was denied.

Pay attention to the date. You will have 60 days from that date to file a written request for reconsideration. (This same time limit applies to every subsequent appeal as well).

If your claim was denied for medical reasons, a different DDS claims examiner and medical consultant will review your case. You can present new medical evidence to this team. Unfortunately, most denials are not overturned at this level. But don’t despair.

With the help of an experienced attorney, you can request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge and explain why you need and deserve disability benefits. If your claim is denied, again, then your attorney can help you appeal your decision to the Social Security Appeals Council and, if needed, to the nearest U.S. District Court located in North Carolina (Eastern, Middle or Western districts).

Unfortunately, the appeals process can be lengthy. You can speed up the process if you request an “on-the-record” review or if you can demonstrate a “dire need” for your claim to be processed faster. However, some appeals may take two years or longer to resolve.

The good news is that, once you win your case, you get back benefits covering the time that you spent waiting for your appeal to be processed.

Many people are confused about how the appeals process works. We offer a page on common myths and misconceptions about the SSD process to help clear up some of this confusion.