You read the letter five times, and you still can’t believe your Social Security disability benefits were denied. You know that you can appeal the decision, but you’ve also heard that many appeals are denied as well. Is there any point to pursuing your case? And what do you do if your appeal falls on deaf ears?

The good news is that you can appeal an unfavorable SSDI decision multiple times in many different ways, with a new person looking at your medical condition with each appeal.

First Appeal: Disability Determinations Section (DDS)

If your benefits have been denied, your first step is to send your claim back to the Nebraska Disability Determinations Section (DDS) in Lincoln. This is the same body that was responsible for the first ruling on your claim, but you have the right to request an additional review by a different DDS evaluator.

The new claims examiner will evaluate the information you have provided to determine if you are medically disabled. For this reason, it is important to have all of your medical records collected from all hospitals. For example, if you received treatment at both Alegent Creighton Health Center but followed up at St.Eliabeth's Hospital, you must collect all past treatment records in order to provide the examiner with all the facts of your case.

If your reconsideration is also denied, your next step is to request a disability hearing from Social Security. After you ask for a hearing, your claim will be transferred to Social Security's Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR).

Second Appeal: Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR)

On the day of your hearing, your SSDI or SSI disability claim will be presented to an administrative law judge at ODAR. These hearings typically take a long time to get scheduled, and you are more likely to receive a favorable decision if you attend the hearing. You may choose to bring your attorney with you..

In most cases, beneficiaries are able to win their appeals if they can provide additional medical evidence that their condition has become worse or medical evidence of limitations that prevent them from working. Before you file your appeal, download your FREE copy of our guide, Give Yourself the Best Chance of Winning Your Social Security Disability Case, or email us at [email protected] to ask us a question.

Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska