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Even if you are no longer able to work because of an injury or illness, the Social Security Administration may deny your application for disability benefits. In this case, you can exercise your right to appeal your case.

Follow these steps if you receive a denial after applying for Social Security disability insurance.

Request reconsideration

You must ask for SSA to reconsider your case within 60 days of receiving a denial. The request form is available on the agency website. Reconsideration is available for both medical and non-medical denials and involves a complete review of your claim by a person who did not review your initial application. You can also submit new evidence and information that may impact your SSDI case.

Request a hearing

If you disagree with the results of your reconsideration, you have the right to request an SSDI appeal hearing. At this hearing, you have the opportunity to present your case to an administrative law judge who did not review your initial application or reconsideration request. You can have attorney representation of the hearing, which will typically take place within 75 miles of your address.

Seek Appeals Council review

Some individuals who receive an SSDI denial from the administrative law judge may qualify for a hearing with the Appeals Council. However, the Council can refuse to hear your case after reviewing the judge’s decision. If the Council accepts your case, its members will decide or return your information to an administrative law judge for further review.

File a federal lawsuit

If you reach this point in the process and have not successfully qualified for SSDI, you can file a lawsuit in federal court in your local U.S. judicial district. You only have 60 days to file this type of case, starting when the Appeals Council denied or refused to hear your appeal.

Your application for SSDI can receive a denial because the agency believes you can work. Denial can also occur because of financial reasons such as living arrangements, assets or resources.