The Social Security Administration initially rejects approximately 70 percent of disability applications. If your application has been rejected, it is important to immediately retain a competent attorney to advise you about the next steps in the appeals process. Whatever you do, do not delay; failing to file a timely appeal could ruin your chances of obtaining retroactive disability benefits that you might otherwise be entitled to receive based on the date of your initial application. The appeals process can be onerous but is worth it if it opens up access to these important federal benefits and the medical coverage that comes with them. In the first stage of an appeal, called a “request for reconsideration,” the disability agency that made the initial determination gets a second look at your application. Very few appeals are won at this level. After being rejected for reconsideration, you go to a hearing before an administrative law judge to plead your case. Applicants who make it this far have a roughly even chance of winning the appeal — a chance that grows larger if you are represented by competent counsel. If the administrative law judge rejects your appeal, you can file for review by the Appeals Council, which approves only 2 or 3 percent of all appeals. Your final recourse is to file suit in federal court.
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