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Navigating the Social Security Disability Benefits Denial: What Happens Next with an Attorney


Navigating the Social Security Disability Benefits Denial: What Happens Next with an Attorney

by Vincent Hein



Receiving a denial for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, whether it be Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), can be frustrating. However, it’s important to remember that an SSDI or SSI denial is not the end of the road. Many applicants who initially get denied Social Security Disability benefits find success by seeking the assistance of an experienced social security disability attorney to guide them through the disability appeals process. In this blog post, we will explore what steps to take after a denial of SSD benefits and how an attorney can help you secure the SSD benefits you deserve.

Understand the Denial Letter

When you receive a social security disability denial letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA), it’s essential to carefully review it. The letter should provide specific reasons for the denial, such as medical documentation, work history, or income-related issues. Understanding why your claim was denied is the first step in addressing the issue.

Contact a Social Security Disability Attorney

One of the most important steps to take after a denial is to consult with an SSD attorney. These legal professionals specialize in SSD cases and have a deep understanding of the complex application and appeals process. They can help you assess the strength of your case, identify the reasons for denial, and plan your next steps.

File an Appeal

After you’ve been denied SSD benefits, with the assistance of your attorney you’ll typically file an appeal within the SSA’s specified timeframe. There are several levels of appeal, including:

  1. Request for Reconsideration: This involves a review by a different SSA examiner who did not participate in the initial decision. Reconsideration reviews nearly always agree with the prior review and odds are very high you will be denied again.
  2. Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearing: If your claim is denied again during reconsideration, you can request a hearing before an ALJ. Your attorney will prepare your case and represent you at the hearing. National averages show that historically ALJ’s approve approximately 43% of cases before them, but that number in 2022 was around 54%. Who you get as a judge will be very important.
  3. Appeals Council Review: If the ALJ denies your claim, your attorney can request a review by the Appeals Council. They will assess whether the ALJ made any legal errors. A full reversal by the Appeals Council is very unlikely. Generally, if you win here, your cases is simply remanded back to the same judge you had before with instructions on what other legal considerations the ALJ needs to analyze because they never reviewed the first time they had the case. Approximately 1% of disability benefits cases heard by appeals council get approved. The remaining cases were either denied (84%), dismissed (3%), or remanded back to the ALJ level (12%).
  4. Federal Court Review: If all other options are exhausted, you can file a lawsuit in federal court with the assistance of your attorney. If this happens, you are now moving out of administrative courts to Federal (not state) District Courts.
  5. Start Over. If you have exhausted all of your appeal options, or if it makes sense to not appeal, your lawyer can advise if a new disability application is the correct path. Generally, this would occur after you went in front of an ALJ for a hearing or later in the appeals process.


Gather Supporting Documentation

Your attorney will work with you to gather any additional medical records, employment history, or other documentation necessary to strengthen your case. Ensuring that you have strong supporting evidence is crucial to a successful appeal.

Prepare for the Hearing

If your case reaches the ALJ hearing stage, your attorney will prepare you for the hearing process. They will advise you on what to expect, help you understand the questions you may be asked, and ensure you are well-prepared to present your case effectively.

Attend the Hearing

Your attorney will represent you at the ALJ hearing and present your case. They will advocate on your behalf, cross-examine any witnesses, and address any issues raised by the judge.

Await the Decision

After the hearing, you will need to await the ALJ’s decision. This can take several months. If the decision is favorable, you will begin receiving SSD benefits. If it is unfavorable, you can proceed with further appeals with the guidance of your attorney.


Navigating the process after a denial of SSD benefits can be complex and overwhelming, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Hiring an experienced social security disability attorney can make a significant difference in your chances of success. They will guide you through the appeals process, help you gather supporting documentation, and represent you effectively at hearings. Remember that persistence and proper legal representation can lead to the approval of your SSD benefits, providing the financial support you need during a challenging time. If you or a loved one needs assistance in filing an appeal for SSD, contact Russell Law Offices today!


Vincent Hein

Senior Attorney

Jefferson, Marshall, Stoughton

About Vincent Hein is a Senior Associate Attorney at Russell Law Offices, S.C. Vincent’s law practice focuses on elder law, estate planning, special needs planning, nursing home protection planning, disability, business law, as well as trust and estate administration and trust and estate litigation. Vincent earned his undergraduate degree in English and Philosophy from the […]

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