How to Appeal if Your Application for Social Security Disability Benefits is Denied

If your initial application for Social Security disability benefits is denied, you should strongly consider filing an appeal.

If the initial review of your case by the Disability Determination Services (DDS) office is not favorable, you have the right to file for an appeal of your case.  If you follow the proper steps, your case will eventually be heard by an administrative law judge (ALJ) at a de novo hearing.  The ALJ will not be bound by the opinions and determinations of the initial review of your case.  Furthermore, you have the opportunity to appoint a Social Security Disability attorney to work with you and represent you at the hearing.  As with other judicial proceedings, you will have the opportunity to testify at the hearing and to present evidence proving that you are entitled under the law to Social Security Disability benefits. 

A substantial percentage of denials are reversed on appeal. Many Social Security disability claims which are initially denied are allowed during the appeal process. 

You must submit the completed appeal forms within 60 days after you receive written notice of the Social Security Administration’s decision to deny disability benefits.  Therefore, it is imperative that claimants promptly respond to correspondence received from the Social Security Administration.  Seek the advice and assistance of a Social Security Disability attorney if you need help with completing the forms. 

The forms will request some basic information, such as your name, address, and Social Security number. The forms will also request detailed information related to your disability, including the name, address, and contact information of each of your medical providers (e.g., physicians and hospitals); the reason(s) why you were treated by each of your medical providers; your medications, if any; and the types of tests or procedures (e.g., MRI, surgery, blood tests, etc.) that were performed.  You should also state the reasons why you believe that you are entitled to Social Security Disability benefits. When you submit your forms, you can attach other material for consideration, such as recent medical records.  Other persuasive evidence might include a letter from a former employer confirming the months/years you worked, or a detailed report from a physician explaining your physical and/or mental impairments and why they keep you from working. 

All of the forms are available at your local Social Security office or from the Social Security Administration’s website at




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