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Next steps if your SSDI claim has been denied

Even if your disability claim appears to be straightforward, it's important to know that most claims are not approved upon initial application. If your initial SSDI claim has been denied, please do not panic.

Instead, consider filing an appeal as quickly as you and an experienced SSDI attorney can submit one properly. You likely only have sixty days from the time you received the denial letter to appeal the decision, so there is really no time to waste. The appeals process usually involves an internal reconsideration of the evidence and then a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge. Having experienced legal counsel on your side can make this process less stressful, more successful and quicker.

How you can help

The best way to help your attorney successfully navigate the appeals process is to keep detailed records of all medical treatment and be prepared to discuss your ability to perform basic tasks. It may take many visits to multiple specialists to prove your claim.

The good news is that you will most likely be awarded back pay based on the date of your claim. Your Social Security Disability benefits will most likely be reduced by any worker's compensation you receive. You can't claim partial or temporary disability. If your disability isn't expected to last for more than a year or if you can be substantially employed, you won't qualify.

What to expect

The process of appealing a SSDI denial may be a lengthy and complex one. The Social Security Administration is working to make the process faster. Video hearings may be available. This may allow you to schedule the hearing sooner and at a more convenient location for you. If you have a condition on the "Compassionate Allowance" list your claim might be processed faster. You should speak with your attorney if you qualify for this expedited process.

The national average amount of time it takes to appeal a case in front of an Administrative Law Judge is 380 days. This is when most claims are ultimately approved. If a claim is denied after being heard by the Administrative Law Judge, there are further options to appeal.

Once you are receiving benefits, your case will be reviewed regularly to determine if you are still disabled. Most of the time, benefits are continued, but if Social Security stops your benefits you may appeal. Your benefits may be continued during an appeal if you act quickly.

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