3 Steps You Need to Take if Your SSDI is Denied

Most people pay into the social security system for decades without ever needing to use the benefits. When you are injured, or otherwise disabled, it is important to be able to get the benefits that you are entitled to. Sadly, many people have their disability benefits denied for a variety of reasons. Denials either at the initial application, or when submitting for renewal, are quite common.

It is important to remember that it is usually possible to appeal a denial and get the benefits you deserve. When fighting for these rights, you’ll have to go through the following steps:

Seek a Hearing

In the state of Alabama, the first step in having your denial appealed is to submit a request to have a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). This must be done within 60 days of being notified that your claim was denied. An ALJ is an attorney who works for the social security Office of Hearings Operations. They will listen to your arguments on why your claim should be approved and review all the relevant facts. While each case is unique, appeals at this level have about a 50% success rate, which gives you quite good odds.

Go to the Appeals Council

If your hearing does not result in a favorable result, you can request that your case be reviewed by the Appeals Council. The council selects random cases to review, and they will have the power to either dismiss the case, grant the appeal, or deny it. If your case is reviewed, it has a low chance of success (2-3% in most cases). While the odds are not in your favor at this step, it is necessary to go through in order to continue through the legal process.

Filing a Lawsuit

If your case is not approved at the appeals council, the next step is filing a lawsuit in a US District Court. At this stage you are essentially suing the SSDI for the benefits that you are entitled to. A federal judge will hear your case and you should be represented by an experienced social security attorney to have the best chance of success. The courts can reverse the decision of the ALJ or the appeals council in some cases, but more often they will remand your case back to the social security administration with instructions to review specific points in your case more carefully. If this happens, your chances of successfully having your case approved goes up significantly.

Never Fight Alone

Fighting the social security administration is a time consuming and stressful process. It is certainly not something you should try to handle on your own. If you have had your application for social security disability insurance denied, contact attorney John M. Totten at to have your case reviewed and get help determining your next steps.

Written by John M. Totten

John M. Totten

John's office is in Athens, Alabama, where he has helped thousands of people in North Alabama with everything from family law issues, to catastrophic injury and death cases, to criminal defense.