How to Appeal
If your application for Social Security disability has been denied and you cannot work, I hope you decide to file an appeal.
Whether appealing a first or second denial, you must file your appeal within 65 days of the date of the denial letter. If you miss the deadline for appealing, you will need to re-apply and then promptly appeal the likely subsequent denial.
The First Appeal
To file the Request for Reconsideration, use Form SSA-561-U2 (available at www.socialsecurity.gov or 1-800-772-1213). The form is short and straightforward, mostly asking for contact and identity information.
One question to pay attention to is, “I do not agree with determination made on the above claim and request reconsideration. My reasons are:” If you keep your answer short and specific, you are less likely to create inconsistencies in the record. “I am still disabled” is a good response.
You will also need to complete another disability report to let SSA know whether your medical condition has changed. Use SSA-3441-BK, which is titled Disability Report – Appeal.
In Section 7, Information About Your Activities, it is best to say nothing if your impairments have not worsened since you applied. Even though your initial description did not work, avoid the temptation to describe yourself as in worse shape now. Exaggeration is a mistake.
Include another Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration (Form SSA-827) and any new medical records obtained since your initial application.
You will wait 3-4 months for a decision on your Request for Reconsideration. Don’t be discouraged if you are turned down on reconsideration. Only 15% are approved. It is possible you will be among the lucky ones.
If you are one of the 85% who had a Request for Reconsideration denied, immediately file your second appeal. You have 65 days from the date on your denial letter to file. You may file online at www.socialsecurity.gov, or call 1-800-772-1213 for:
- Form HA-501-U5: Request for Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge
- Form SSA-3441-BK: Disability Report – Appeal
- Form SSA-827: Authorization for Source to Release Information to the Social Security Administration
The Request is the only form that will look new to you. It is short and easy to complete. As with your earlier filed Request for Reconsideration, you should provide a short and non-specific answer to question 5: “I disagree with the determination made on my claim because:” A good response is, “I am still disabled.”
For question 7, check “I wish to appear at the hearing.” Letting the judge see your impairments and hear about them face-to-face is the most persuasive evidence that can be provided, and is one of the big reasons why 55% of applicants are successful at their hearings.
After you file the Request for Hearing, you should start looking for an attorney to represent you at the hearing. A disability hearing is too complex, the stakes are too high, and too much advance preparation is required to go it alone.