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What Do I Need to Appeal My Social Security Disability Decision?

You waited months for your benefit checks from Social Security, only to receive a letter in the mail stating that your claim was denied. You’re not sure what you should do: can you call someone to ask for a reconsideration, can you file a new claim, or should you just give up on the process altogether?

Most disability applications will be denied the first time around due to incomplete information, an overwhelming number of requests, or other factors than have little to do with your disability status. For this reason, the first thing you should do when you receive a denial notice from the Social Security Administration (SSA) is file a request for appeal. This will force the SSA to take a second look at your application by asking for a decision from a judge.

How to Apply for a Social Security Disability Appeal Hearing

Applicants are eligible to request a Social Security disability hearing if they have been denied benefits, or have only been partially approved. (Note: while appealing a partial approval may win you full benefits, the judge will reexamine your entire file, placing you at risk of denial and losing what little benefits you have won.)

There are three ways to appeal your decision:

  • Online. You can file your appeal online if you have your medical information and disability denial on hand. You should note that while the application may take as little as 20 minutes, it will require a substantial amount of medical and personal information. It will also ask whether you have representation from a lawyer, and if you can name any witnesses who would be willing to speak for you in court. You will also need to compete a disability report that describes your current medical condition, including any recent developments that could affect your application (such as an improvement in your condition or additional physical difficulties).
  • By mail. When mailing in your application, you must complete an official Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge (Form HA-501). This form will allow you to outline the reasons that you disagree with Social Security’s decision, as well as submit additional medical evidence to support your claim. Although it is not required, you should attempt to attend your Social Security hearing in person if it is possible.
  • Request in writing. If you are unsure how to begin your appeal, you can send a written letter to your local Social Security office in order to request a hearing. Once the letter has been received, a representative from Social Security should contact you to help you collect the necessary evidence to file an appeal.


If you need help filing your appeal, you should consider speaking with a Social Security disability attorney. We can help you gather your medical evidence, complete and file the required forms, and see if you qualify for an expedited appeal. Click the contact link on this page to find out how we can help you. You will not be charged anything for talking to us, and we do not get paid unless we win your case.