Every year, almost two million people apply for disability benefits. Still, the Social Security Administration denies more than 60 percent of applications yearly. How many times can you appeal a denied application? And how long will it take to appeal? We will explain the levels of appeal, average wait times, and how to reduce risks and delays with your application.
How Many Times Can You Appeal Your Social Security Disability Claim?
You can appeal your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim four times—in four levels of appeal. If the Social Security Administration denies your first appeal, you can request the next level of claim review. You must appeal in writing within 60 days of receiving a decision from the Social Security Administration.
The four SSDI appeal levels include:
- Request for reconsideration
- Request an administrative law judge (ALJ) hearing
- Ask the Social Security Administration’s Appeals Council to review your case
- File a lawsuit in U.S. District Court
SSDI Appeal Level 1 – Request for Reconsideration
You can request reconsideration of your SSDI claim for a medical or a non-medical determination.
- Wait time – The average wait time for SSDI reconsideration is four to six months.
If the Social Security Administration denies your disability claim for medical reasons and you appeal it, a medical consultant who did not participate in your initial review will reconsider it. They will consider the medical evidence you submitted initially and any new evidence you present.
Non-medical reasons that the Social Security Administration denies your claim can relate to any of these factors:
- Employment history
- Living arrangements
SSDI Appeal Level 2 – Request for an ALJ Hearing
If you disagree with the decision on your request for reconsideration, you can ask for a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). An ALJ is an experienced, licensed attorney who works for the Social Security Administration’s Office of Hearings Operations and acts as an impartial judge of your case. You must submit the hearing request within 60 days of your receipt of the denial notification.
- Wait time – The average wait time for an SSDI ALJ hearing is six to 22 months.
SSDI Appeal Level 3 – Ask the Appeals Council to Review Your Case
You can initiate the third level of appeal within 60 days of notification that the ALJ denied or dismissed your case. The Social Security Administration’s Appeals Council may grant, deny, or dismiss your request. If the Appeals Council does not review your claim or dismisses it, you can file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court.
- Wait time – Appeals Council wait times vary from three months to two years depending on the caseload, amount of evidence to review, and complexity of your case.
SSDI Appeal Level 4 – File a Lawsuit in U.S. District Court
You may file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court within 60 days after receiving the Appeal Council’s notification of dismissal or denial of your SSDI case. A federal judge will hear your case without a jury.
- Wait time – You may wait eight months to a year or longer for a federal court decision on your SSDI case.
For details on the SSDI claim appeals process, read the document, Your Right to Question the Decision Made on Your Claim, published by the Social Security Administration.
How to Reduce the Risk of SSDI Claim Denial
You can reduce the risk of SSDI claim denial with these steps:
- Understand the eligibility requirements.
- Use the SSDI application checklist to ensure you have the required documentation to apply.
- Get legal advice from an SSDI attorney.
How Do You File an SSDI Appeal?
You can file an SSDI appeal on the Social Security Administration’s website. Go to the Disability Benefits – Appeal a Decision page, and follow these steps:
- Click on the section for your level of appeal
- Click the appeal request button
- Read the instructions
- Click Start an Appeal
If the Social Security Administration denies your SSDI claim, you can appeal four times—in four levels of appeal. But you must appeal in writing within 60 days of receiving your denial notification. Wait times for SSDI appeals vary from four to 22 months. If you must appeal a case, getting legal advice can help you avoid unnecessary delays and future denials.
Schedule an SSDI Consultation with Attorney Wogwu
Attorney Lisa Wogwu of San Antonio, Texas, is an experienced SSDI attorney who can guide you through the application or appeals process. She will help you avoid mistakes that lead to delays or denials. You will not pay a fee unless the Social Security Administration approves your claim.
Call Attorney Wogwu or schedule a consultation today.