Appealing an SSDI Decision – Connecticut Injury Lawyers
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Appealing an SSDI Decision

Applying for SSDI can be as easy as filling out the application and waiting for the mail, but frequently, people are denied and forced to enter a drawn-out appeals process. Many people are denied in the initial stages of SSDI application. You can still pursue benefits if you know what to do and have the right information. Once you have been denied, consider asking for the help of a lawyer to bring your case to the right people in the right way. 

Why Was I Denied? 

Truthfully, there are many reasons why you could have been denied at the initial stages. About 70% of Connecticut people were denied SSDI benefits in 2018-2019. One of the biggest reasons people are denied is because they already earn too much income. There is a limit of $1,310 per month that people on SSDI can earn at work. If you work too much, SSA will not consider you disabled. Once you make over $1,650 monthly, your SSI benefits will be decreased to $0, and you will no longer qualify for SSI. 

The SSA may deny you because your disability isn’t “severe enough” or will not last long enough to justify giving you SSI. If your disability won’t last longer than a year or eventually result in death, you won’t qualify. People with alcohol or drug addictions will not qualify for SSI unless their doctor or a medical professional agrees that they would still be disabled without an addiction. If the SSA believes you are not cooperating, they will deny you benefits. 

Failing to follow medical advice, like therapy or medications, will put you at risk of being denied. Similarly, refusing to work with the SSA when applying will likely tank your case. Always provide documentation they ask for as soon as possible, and contact someone if you cannot make an appointment. Other reasons someone is denied are being convicted of a crime or committing fraud.

What Do I Do Now? 

The process after being denied is the same for SSDI and SSI. There are four steps to the appeals process:

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  1. Reconsideration 
  2. Hearing before an Administrative Judge 
  3. Review by the Appeals Council 
  4. Going to the Federal Courts

The Reconsideration Stage

The first three steps of the process can be done online, relieving a lot of stress if you can do it that way. To begin, start your appeal online at within 60 days from when you were denied. If you would like to submit your appeal by mail, you will need to fill out forms SSA-561, SSA-3441, and SSA-827 and mail them to your local Social Security office. At this time, you can provide more information for your case. Your application will be reviewed by a new set of representatives who will determine whether you are eligible for SSDI. 

Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge

If you are denied at the Reconsideration stage, you can appeal again to get a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge within 60 days of the last denial. This can sound intimidating, but it is a much different hearing than many others that people commonly encounter. The unique opportunity you have in this stage is that you will be able to appear in front of the Judge and plead your case. In both earlier stages, no one had the opportunity to talk to you and hear why you should be awarded SSDI. The Judge will review your medical condition and what makes you a good candidate for benefits. The Judge will not render their decision at the hearing; instead it will be mailed to you in approximately 6-8 weeks. There won’t be a prosecutor representing SSA at the hearing fighting against your case at this stage. It would be helpful to contact an attorney to help you through this, especially if you are again denied and must move on to the next phase of the appeal. 

Review By the Appeals Council 

To get a review by the Appeals Council, you must notify the SSA that you will be appealing within 60 days from when you were last denied. The Appeals Council is made up of hundreds of people, consisting of judges, appeals officers, and support personnel. They will review your file to determine if the Judge in the last stage was consistent with national standards. This usually means they will have the same opinion as the previous Administrative Law Judge. But there is still one more way to appeal your decision: with the Federal Courts. 

Remand to the Federal Courts

Like the stages before it, you must file your notice of appeal within 60 days or risk starting over again. By this stage, you should be working with an attorney to be able to bring your case. The lawyer will prepare your medical records, any witnesses you can bring, and your testimony so that you can put forward the most compelling case for you to have SSDI. The Judge will decide, and you will either be awarded benefits, denied, or sent back to an earlier stage in the appeal process. 

Contact a Lawyer Today!

You can appeal the decision on your SSDI case. While there are many steps and deadlines to it, there is someone to help you, especially if it gets further along in the process. Having a lawyer in the hearing isn’t necessary, but it could help you get approved and get your benefits sooner. If you are facing issues with an SSDI denial or are struggling with the appeals process, contact us today!


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