Many people don’t realize that you do not automatically qualify you for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits even if you are disabled and unable to work. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will only approve applicants who are not only disabled but also have enough work credits.

People who are working and paying Social Security taxes can earn up to four work credits per year. Credits are earned based on your income. In 2020, the SSA awards one work credit for every $1,410 in income. This means you must earn a minimum of $5,640 in order to earn the maximum number of four credits per year.  Depending on the age at which you become disabled, you may not have earned enough credits, which is one reason an SSDI claim may be denied.

Denial of an SSDI claim is not unusual, so you shouldn’t let that discourage you.  You may appeal your denied SSDI claim by following these steps:

Request for Reconsideration

Your first step is to request reconsideration of your denied claim.  You can download the necessary forms and mail your request to your local Social Security field office, which you can find by searching with your zip code at the SSA’s field office locator.  You can also submit an appeal online on the SSA website.  Your appeal will be treated as an entirely new review of your claim by examiners that were not involved in the denial of your original claim.

Hearing Before an Administrative Law Judge

If your request for reconsideration is denied, you can continue your appeal by requesting a hearing before an administrative law judge.  You must make this request within 60 days from the date you receive the denial of your request for reconsideration.  It is estimated that about half of the people who have their claims heard by an administrative law judge are awarded SSDI benefits.

Review by Appeals Council

If the administrative law judge has again denied your claim, you still have the opportunity to request a review or dismissal of that decision by the Appeals Council.  After reviewing your claim, the Appeals Council can either make its own ruling to affirm or reject the administrative law judge’s ruling or send the claim back to the administrative law judge for further review.  While a majority of Appeals Council hearings are not successful, you must take this step in order to pursue one last step: a review in federal court.

Federal Court Review

The final stage in the SSDI claim appeal process is to file a lawsuit in U.S. district court. While you may win your appeal in federal court — about half of appeals are returned to the SSA for reconsideration — this process can be expensive and time-consuming.

Your best bet for winning your SSDI claim appeal is to consult with an SSDI attorney early in the appeals process.  An experienced SSDI lawyer will be familiar with the appeals process and can review your case to determine the best way forward. Call us at (918) 582-2500 or toll-free at (800) 722-8880 or complete the simple form below for a free consultation with a skilled attorney.

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