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What should I do if my disability benefits are denied?

If you are turned down for disability benefits and you believe you are entitled to them, file an appeal for reconsideration within sixty days of the denial. If you miss the sixty-day deadline, you’ll have to file a new application.

Reconsideration is excluded in the following locations: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Louisiana, Missouri, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, and North and West Los Angeles. You can still appeal the denial, but you’ll have to go before an administrative law judge.

If your petition for reconsideration is denied, or you live in a state where reconsideration isn’t done, you can appeal and get the case heard by an administrative law judge. We recommend hiring an attorney, preferably one who has worked for the Social Security Administration, or who has a proven track record in disability cases. Expect it to take a year or two to get the case heard. If approved on appeal, the benefits are payable retroactively back to when you first applied, provided that the appeals process was not dropped for any reason. If the judge rules against you, you can go before the Appeals Council to have your case heard.

If the Appeals Council rules against you, you can go to federal court. Hardly anyone ever does this because of the expensive legal fees.

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