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Disability application process

Everything You Need to Know About SSI and SSDI Reconsiderations

Written by
Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney
Jackie Jakab
Lead Attorney
March 27, 2023  ·  6 min read
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If you’ve applied for disability and your application was denied, you can now decide whether you’d like to ask for a reconsideration. A reconsideration takes place when the SSA looks at your application again.

Unfortunately, a reconsideration can take several months, and you’re not likely to get approved. But working with a good disability lawyer can be a massive help.

And if your reconsideration is still denied, you can move to the next appeal stage, which offers much higher odds of approval.

Wrongfully denied? Get help with an appeal.

What is a reconsideration?

A reconsideration happens when you apply for disability, the SSA denies it, and you ask them to look at your application again and reconsider the decision. You have 60 days to request a reconsideration, starting from your denial date.

Reconsiderations are very common because more than 70% of people who apply for disability benefits get denied the first time around. A reconsideration is the first stage of an appeal.

If it’s also denied, your application may proceed to the second round of appeal, which is a hearing in front of a judge. This process is also the same whether you apply for SSDI or SSI.

What happens during a reconsideration

After you file for reconsideration, the SSA will review your while application again. The SSA will check to see if you meet the technical requirements — work history for SSDI and income limits for SSI.

The Disability Determination Services (DDS) will again review your medical information to determine the severity of your condition. If you submit any updated documents, DDS will consider those too.

You may need to do a consultative exam (even if you already did one). The exam is a short, basic medical exam that helps provide more information to prove you’re eligible for disability.

Should you file for reconsideration?

Your decision on whether or not to file for reconsideration will largely depend on the type of denial you received.

There are two kinds of denials: medical and technical. In almost all cases, it’s worth your time to appeal if you received a medical denial. Technical denials are harder to appeal.

Appealing medical denials

Medical denials make up 70% of total denials from the SSA. If you’ve received a medical denial, the SSA does not think your medical condition qualifies you for disability.

If you were denied disability for medical reasons, there’s a higher chance that an appeal will be successful, so you should definitely appeal. Getting a good disability lawyer can be extremely helpful as you work to strengthen your case. You’ll want to make sure you prove that you see your doctor(s) often for treatment and that your condition continues to limit you even though you’re getting treatment.

Appealing technical denials

Technical denials are less common and harder to appeal. This type of denial means you don’t meet the non-medical qualifications for disability benefits.

For example, you may not have enough work credits because you haven’t work long enough. If you’re applying for SSI, technical requirements include staying under the income and asset limits.

Most people who are denied for technical reasons simply don’t meet the requirements and don’t qualify for Social Security disability benefits. To win you claim, you’ll have to show that the income, work history, or tax information the SSA has for you are wrong. Log in to your mySocialSecurity account to check your historical earnings.

If you originally only tried for SSDI, perhaps applying for SSI would be a better fit for you. You can can also learn more here about SSDI’s technical requirements.

How to file for reconsideration

You must file for reconsideration within 60 days of the date the SSA makes their initial decision on your application. If you miss the 60-day window, you’ll have to start the disability application process all over again.

You can submit the forms for reconsideration in three ways:

If you don’t want to file your appeal online, you’ll need to fill out and submit three forms:

If you have a disability lawyer, they’ll be able to help you complete and submit all of this reconsideration paperwork. They can also help you gather your most recent medical records.

What are my chances of winning an SSDI reconsideration?

Unfortunately, your chances of winning a reconsideration are low. SSA data shows that over 90% of reconsiderations are denied. However, you can appeal a denial and the next stage has much higher odds of approval.

Strengthening your appeal

You can strengthen your chances of winning an appeal by submitting additional, more recent medical information. For example, any documentation you have from after the date of your initial application could help show the SSA that your condition qualifies you for disability.

You can also improve your chances by working with a disability lawyer. They’ll be able to help you gather medical documents, write strong answers on your appeal forms, and prove to the SSA that your condition is truly as severe and limiting as you say it is.

Before you appeal, read these 7 tips for winning a reconsideration.

How long does an SSDI reconsideration appeal take?

In 2022, the average reconsideration took 6.1 months (183 days) from the time someone filed until the SSA gave a decision.

Processing times have increased in recent years and current processing times are about 1.5 months longer in 2022 compared to 2021.

What happens if your SSDI reconsideration is approved

If the SSA approves your reconsideration, congratulations! You’ll start getting your monthly payments with your first one including all of your back pay.

Back pay covers the monthly benefits you’re entitled to but haven’t yet received because the SSA was still processing your application.

How much back pay you get depends on which program you’re approved for and how long it took the SSA to process your application.

  • For SSDI, you’ll generally receive money for the time between the onset of your disability and the time you were first approved for benefits, minus five months for processing.

  • With SSI, your back pay covers the time between when you applied and when you were approved, minus five months for processing.

Understand how much you’ll get with our breakdown of disability back pay.

What happens if your SSDI reconsideration is denied

If your reconsideration is denied, you have 60 days to appeal the decision again. The next step is to have a disability hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ).

You have a much better chance of winning at the hearing stage. In 2022, judges approved just over half of cases (around 54%).

However, you’ll need to be prepared to wait. In December 2022, the average time from requesting a hearing until the actual hearing date was 13.7 months. Your exact wait time will vary based on where you live and which SSA hearing office handles your case. The longest wait time in December 2022 was 23.5 months, though the shortest wait time was six months.

Learn more about what to expect from a disability hearing.

Can you get help with your reconsideration?

Yes, it is possible to get help with your reconsideration. Your best option is to talk with a disability lawyer.

It may seem strange to involve a lawyer, but the disability application is primarily a legal process and a lawyer will know the best ways to improve your chances of success. Even if you’ve already been denied, they can help you avoid common pitfalls, gather stronger medical documentation, and then they can represent you in a disability hearing. Overall, applicants who have lawyers are three times more likely to get approved for benefits.

If you think you might want professional help, Atticus can match you up with an experienced lawyer from our network. Getting matched is free and you never pay the lawyer anything unless you win disability benefits. Get started by taking a short quiz to give us more information about your situation.

Get personalized advice on your appeal. Talk with our team today.
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Frequently asked questions about reconsiderations

Is a reconsideration the same for SSI and SSDI?

The reconsideration process is the same whether you’re applying for SSDI or SSI, but the SSA will consider different technical requirements for each program — income and assets for SSI but work and tax history for SSDI.

What are my chances of winning SSDI at reconsideration?

Based on recent SSA data, only about 10% of reconsiderations get approved. However, you can appeal again and the next stage, a disability hearing in front of a judge, offers a higher chance of success than any other appeal stage.

What happens if my SSDI reconsideration is approved?

If your SSI or SSDI reconsideration is approved, you’ll begin receiving benefits soon. Your first check will likely include months of back pay.

How long does an SSDI reconsideration take?

As of the start of 2023, the average SSI and SSDI reconsideration takes 6.1 months (183 days) from the time you file your request until you receive a decision. Read more on how long a disability appeal takes.

Can a lawyer help at the reconsideration stage?

Yes, a disability lawyer can help strengthen your claim at the reconsideration stage if you received a medical denial. Reversing a technical denial is much harder and a lawyer may not be able to help you as much, though they can still offer advice on the best way to proceed.

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Jackie Jakab, Disability Attorney

Jackie Jakab

Lead Attorney

Jackie Jakab is Atticus’s Legal Director. She’s a licensed attorney, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, and has counseled thousands of people seeking disability benefits.
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