How Do You Start an Appeal for Social Security Disability?

In most states, you'll need to start your appeal at the disability reconsideration stage.

How do you start an appeal for Social Security or SSI disability once you've been denied? The process is simple. The first step is simply to contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) and inform the agency of your desire to initiate an appeal. Doing this will accomplish two things; first, it will put SSA on notice that you have requested an appeal within the deadline and, second, it will prompt the Social Security Administration to send you the appropriate appeal forms. In most states, the first level of appeal is the reconsideration.

How to Request a Reconsideration

The forms needed to initiate this appeal are known as the Request for Reconsideration (Form SSA-561) and the Disability Report-Appeals. Completing the paperwork for a reconsideration is a fairly simple and easy thing to do. Here's a sample of a filled-out Request for Reconsideration and a filled-out Disability Report for Appeals.

Before returning the forms, review them to make sure you have submitted all the necessary information. For instance, if you've been seen by your doctor or doctors recently, or have been seen by a new doctor or clinic, this information should be included. If you have any new impairments or limitations or your condition has worsened, include this information.

Always file this appeal within the 60-day deadline (given that the appeal forms should only take 45 minutes at the most, missing a two-month appeal deadline should never happen).

Online Appeal

If you are Internet savvy, you might want to file your appeal online at the Social Security website. Go to the SSA's website at to file an appeal online. The site has full instruction on what you need to do.

A word of caution, if you chose to file your disability appeal online, be sure to complete the appeal and the appea disability report form online, and return your signed medical release forms to your local Social Security office. If you have any new medical records or test results, mail them in as well.

Follow Up With the SSA

Before you send in the reconsideration request, make a copy of what you mail to the Social Security Administration for your personal records. One to two weeks after sending in your appeal, call the Social Security office to verify that it was received. If they have no record of having received it, make another copy of the copy you have and mail it in again. And, once again, make a followup call after you mail it. Don't be surprised if you don't get a response on your reconsideration right away.

If You Have an Attorney

Of course, if you are represented by an attorney who handles Social Security disability and SSI disability cases, your attorney will start the appeal process for you. How will your attorney know that you've been denied and, consequently, know when to start your appeal? Here's how: when you retain an attorney to handle a disability claim, the attorney will have you complete an "appointment of representative" form. This form will be sent in to the SSA and, from that time forward, the attorney will receive copies of everything that is mailed to you, such as notices of denial. Just the same, though, if you get denied on your claim, you should still contact your disability attorney -- just in case the attorney does not receive his or her copy of the notice.

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