When To Hire A Lawyer for a Disability Appeal Staff Profile Picture
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The Social Security Administration (SSA) reports that disability claim denials average around 67 percent. However, when these denials were appealed, the award rate for appealing applicants at the reconsideration and hearing levels reached as high as 8% (in the period between 2010-2019). Applicants who can supply ample medical evidence are especially likely to win their appeal. 

There are many reasons why a disability claim may be initially denied. For example, they may have determined that the applicant’s income level is too high or not enough medical evidence was supplied to qualify for benefits. However, if you believe that the denial of your disability claim was made in error, you have the option to file an appeal of the decision. If you have questions regarding appealing your disability benefits claim, consult with a disability attorney.

Getting Started: Appealing Your Denial

While the initial denial of your claim may seem intimidating, it is important to recognize that many disability claims are awarded after an appeal is made. Four main steps can be taken after a disability benefit claim is denied. 

1. Reconsideration

After you receive a disability claim denial, you have 60 days from the date of receipt to file a request for reconsideration. You can file your appeal either online or by mail. Depending on the reason for the denial, you can choose to either “start disability request” or “start non-medical request.” Statistically speaking, it is rare to have a claim approved at the reconsideration level; most likely, you will need to request a hearing by an administrative law judge. 

2. Hearing by administrative law judge (ALJ)

If you submit a reconsideration request and it is denied, you have 60 days to request a hearing by an administrative law judge (ALJ). The majority of disability claimants are awarded benefits at this point in the process. However, a favorable decision is not a guarantee, so it is important that you are represented by a quality legal professional at your hearing. 

3. Appeals council review

Even if the ALJ denies your claim, you can request the Appeals Council to review the judge’s decision. If the Appeals Council finds that the judge made “reversible errors,” the judge’s ruling may be reversed. It is important to note that the Appeals Council Review process is the last potential step you can take within the Social Security Administration. If your claim is denied at this point, you will need to take your case to the federal courts. 

4. Federal court

Similarly to earlier steps in the appeal process, you have sixty days after a denial from the Appeals Council to take your disability benefit claim to federal court. Many applicants work with a disability attorney throughout the appeals process. However, if you have been representing yourself up to this point, it is crucial that you find representation for your federal court case.

Why Should I Hire a Disability Attorney for My Appeal?

A disability appeal is more than a bureaucratic process. It is a complicated legal matter that may require consulting with a legal professional. There are various ways in which hiring a disability lawyer can ensure the success of your appeal. 

Gathering medical evidence and doctor testimonies

First, the strength of your appeal will rest on the availability of concrete evidence. After you hire your disability attorney, they will begin to gather medical documentation of your disability in order to prove your eligibility for benefits. A disability attorney will gather your medical records as well as documentation of an official diagnosis from a medical professional.  

Drafting legal documents

Various legal documents must be submitted throughout the appeals process. It is essential that these documents are promptly filed to ensure you do not exceed the 60-day limit. A disability attorney will review and compile all relevant legal documents, ensuring you are applying for the correct benefits and that you include all necessary information. 

Preparation for questioning

During your appeal hearing, you may be subject to questioning. Understandably, this makes many people apprehensive that they may inadvertently say something that will be detrimental to their case. With the help of an attorney, however, you can prepare for this line of questioning ahead of time. 

Speaking with vocational expert at SSA

A vocational expert is a consultant hired by the SSA to assess the claimant’s ability to maintain regular employment. The vocational expert’s testimony is a major factor in the SSA’s final decision on awarding disability benefits. A disability attorney’s familiarity with the SSA’s vocational experts will be essential during the cross-examination portion of your trial. 

Experience with local ALJ

Disability attorneys have prior experience working with the administrative law judges in their jurisdiction. They are more likely to know what these judges’ decision-making processes look like and can help you learn what to expect during your hearing. During your ALJ trial, your attorney can present your case, call upon the testimony of medical professionals, and challenge counterevidence provided by the SSA.


If you have recently faced a disability insurance claim denial, there are many resources available to help you throughout the appeal process.

Social Security Administration

You will be in contact with the Social Security Administration (SSA) at many points throughout the appeals process. Once you receive an official claim denial, visit the SSA’s page describing the steps of appealing a disability claim denial.  

National Disability Institute

The National Disability Institute (NDI) is a not-for-profit organization that is “committed exclusively to financial education & empowerment for people with disabilities.” The NDI’s Financial Resilience Center is an online hub of various financial resources that can help with unemployment, housing, tax prep, navigating social security benefits, and more. 

Expertise Legal Directory

The most important resource for you during the appeals process will be the guidance of your disability attorney. offers a free-to-use directory of legal professionals categorized by specialty and location. The free Concierge service connects you with experienced professionals according to your needs to make it even easier. To get in touch, call 848-BookPro.

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