Note: We updated this article at the start of 2022 to reflect current data. So, the Social Security Administration (SSA) denied your disability claim. Rest assured, you’re not alone. The SSA reports that on average, 69% of Social Security disability benefit claims get denied. That means less than 2 in 5 people who apply actually receive SSD benefits. It’s important to act quickly after your denial, since waiting too long means you cannot appeal the SSA’s decision. But the decision to reapply vs. appeal isn’t easy or clear-cut, and it varies on a case-by-case basis.
Reapply vs. Appeal: Which One Makes Most Sense for Your Case?
After the SSA reviews your application, they’ll send you a letter in the mail saying you’re approved or denied. If your claim’s denied, your letter should explain the reason why. According to statistics, the best thing to do is appeal the SSA’s decision within 60 days rather than reapply. Of course, reapplying might make more sense if your situation’s changed dramatically since you first applied. But if you’re truly too disabled to work for a year or more, appealing is likely your best option. Keep reading to learn when it makes the most sense to reapply vs. appeal your denial.
3 Times You’re Better Off Appealing Your SSD Denial
1. You received a medical denial
Medical denials are very common for first-time SSD applicants. This means the SSA decided your disability wasn’t severe enough to force you to stop working at least 12 months. If you get a medical denial, you should definitely appeal. Your odds for approval go up again once you get an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing scheduled. About 1 in 10 claims get approved once they reach this stage.
2. You didn’t provide all information or the right evidence to prove your claim
If you didn’t submit some or all medical evidence required to prove your claim, now’s your chance. File your appeal before the 60-day deadline, then get busy pulling copies of your complete medical records from all doctors. Many people believe doctor’s bills or other documents they get free from any healthcare provider will work. Unfortunately, this is not strong enough medical evidence in the SSA’s eyes to prove your case.
Instead, they’re looking for documents like:
- X-rays, MRIs or other high-quality imaging records
- Detailed treatment notes showing your condition’s progress over time
- Screening or approval records for mobility aids or other medical equipment (i.e., hearing aids, prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs, mobility scooters, etc.)
- Letter from your doctor that lists your official medical diagnosis, onset date and how your condition’s symptoms limit your ability to work
If you can’t afford these records, a Social Security disability lawyer can cover the cost and get them for you.
3. You received a technical denial, but need help fixing your application
Look, a lot of people get denied for really basic mistakes on their claim paperwork. We’re talking about things like putting details in the form’s margins, accidentally leaving a required field blank or smeared/illegible handwriting. SSD applications are notoriously difficult to fill out. Get a Social Security lawyer to review your denial letter and copies of your claim paperwork free of charge. Social Security attorneys will not accept you as a client if they don’t think your case will win. And they’ll never charge you a dime upfront to review or appeal your denied claim. Knowing how to find and fix any mistakes on your application can increase your chances for approval on appeal.
3 Times When You Should Definitely Reapply Instead
In some cases, it makes more sense to reapply after your claim’s denial (or it’s your only option). Here are three examples when you’re more likely to get SSD benefits if you reapply.
1. You waited too long and missed your window to appeal
You have 60 days from the date your letter arrives in the mail to appeal. If you miss this deadline, you have no choice but to reapply all over again from scratch.
2. Your monthly income’s more than the max amount allowed to qualify for SSD
If your personal income is more than $1,350 every month, the SSA will automatically reject your application. (The limit to qualify for Supplemental Security Income is no more than $1,350/month per household.) Some applicants get too much money from child support, pension or alimony payments to qualify for SSD. Others earn interest from stock, dividends, and savings accounts. So if that amount goes down or stops coming in, then reapply! Need help figuring out how to qualify when you finally do reapply? You can consult a lawyer for confidential advice about your financial issues free of charge.
3. Your condition got worse since filing your first SSD application
If your condition or symptoms are much worse now than when you first applied, you should definitely reapply. This is your chance to submit evidence that wasn’t relevant or available the first time around. If the denial letter says your disability isn’t severe enough or expected to last 12 months, wait a little, then reapply. Your chances for approval increase the longer your disability stops you from working!
Don’t Reapply Until You Speak to a Lawyer First
If you haven’t already missed your 60-day deadline to appeal your denial, talk to a lawyer. You can always get a free, no-obligation consultation before deciding what to do about your claim. A Social Security lawyer won’t charge you for one-time legal advice. Getting a professional’s opinion about whether to reapply or appeal could shave years off your SSD claim process!
Mandy Voisin is a freelance writer, blogger, and author of Girls of the Ocean and Star of Deliverance. As an accomplished content marketing consultant, mom of four and doctor's wife, Mandy has written hundreds of articles about dangerous drugs and medical devices, medical issues that impact disabled Americans, veterans' healthcare and workers' compensation issues since 2016.