Denials can happen at any stage during the Social Security Disability (SSD) process. Although it’s disheartening to receive a denial, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is trying to be as thorough as possible. They want to ensure that every applicant that receives benefits truly needs them. Because it’s difficult to showcase the entire history of your ailment to a government office through paperwork, denials are common.

While facing a denial, it’s important to understand that you have options. Denials don’t have to be the end. The SSA allows multiple chances for applicants to revise their file. This ensures steps forward in the process for those that need it.

The initial stage

If you receive a denial after the initial stage, you can appeal. To do that, you must submit more information to complete your application. Most times, a denial at this level means that your application was missing something. You can complete this appeal in person or online.

However, this may be a difficult task by yourself. Because the process is lengthy and often confusing, many opt to hire an attorney. An attorney can look through your application and tell you exactly what you need to fulfill the SSA’s requirements.

The reconsideration stage

This stage can take between three to five months before the SSA reaches a decision. Although you’re sending your claim to the same office, different people must review your case. This level of the process is an opportunity for you to present additional information that may strengthen your case.

This stage rarely leads to an approval. An approval at the reconsideration level usually means that your medical condition has worsened or is severe enough. Less than fifteen percent of appeals will be approved during this stage.

If denied at the reconsideration level, you must appeal within 60 days of the date on your denial letter. Your appeal will be presented to a judge in a hearing.

The hearing

A hearing allows you to explain in depth how your condition affects your ability to work. This allows the judge to fully understand your disability and the struggles it brings. This, however, is only a testimony.

If you are denied at your hearing, you have the option to appeal again. This appeal will go to the Appeals Council. It must be completed 60 days from receiving a denial from the hearing. If you are planning to take an appeal to the Appeals Council, an attorney is strongly recommended.

It can be frustrating to receive many denials and the process can seem never-ending. Knowing you’re being denied and knowing how to adjust your application may seem like two different languages during this process. Remember, denials are common at any stage. It’s important to add as much relevant information as possible and to keep fighting to receive the benefits you need.