Social Security Disability Appeals Reached New Record in 2011

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Allsup outlines top 10 mistakes to avoid after being denied Social Security disability benefits

Most people are denied Social Security disability benefits at the initial application level. It can be a difficult disappointment, but it’s important not to give up and instead file a disability appeal.

More people than ever appealed their denied Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims to the hearing level last year, illustrating the need for representation with disability appeals, according to Allsup, a nationwide provider of Social Security disability representation and Medicare plan selection services.

“Most people are denied Social Security disability benefits at the initial application level,” explained David Bueltemann, Allsup manager of senior claimant representatives. “It can be a difficult disappointment, but it’s important not to give up and instead file a disability appeal.”

In fiscal year 2011, the Social Security Administration (SSA) received 859,514 hearing requests (appeals to the hearing level), and completed nearly 3.4 million initial disability claims. About two-thirds of those initial applications were denied.

SSDI is a federally mandated disability insurance program overseen by the Social Security Administration that operates separately from the retirement and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. SSDI provides monthly benefits to individuals who are under full retirement age (age 65 or older) and who can no longer work because of a disability (injury, illness or condition) that is expected to last for more than 12 months or is terminal. Individuals must have paid FICA taxes to be eligible.

Ten Common Mistakes After Social Security Disability Is Denied
There are many reasons an SSDI initial application may be denied. However, it’s important that qualified individuals pursue their disability appeal and seek help. Allsup outlines the following common mistakes to avoid.

1.    Giving up. Applying for Social Security disability benefits is not an easy process because of the many requirements and steps involved. Don’t give up partway through. The Social Security Disability Insurance program is administered under a process that requires applicants meet certain guidelines. It also includes several levels of review and disability appeals.

2.    Missing the appeal deadline and reapplying at the initial level. Some claimants may continue to reapply at the initial application level. “The appeals process, though lengthy, gives you more opportunity to provide additional information with your claim for Social Security disability benefits.”

3.    Choosing not to appeal. Seeking a disability appeal can appear overwhelming, and it may seem simpler to accept the denial of benefits. “People pay into SSDI with the understanding that if they have a disability that makes it impossible for them to work and they meet the other requirements—they will receive benefits from the insurance,” Bueltemann said. “It’s important to pursue this right.”

4.    Not providing enough information. This is a common mistake. For example, claimants may forget to provide SSA examiners with details about all their doctors or fail to provide enough detail about the effects of their condition on work performance. This is where a third-party representative can truly advocate for the claimant.

5.    Wasting time fighting the previous decision or trying to correct a mistake. Everything provided in the initial application will remain a part of the record, including the denial decision. “File your disability appeal and use it as an opportunity to add details and explain your claim for Social Security disability benefits,” Bueltemann said.

6.    Not providing updates to the state Disability Determination Services (DDS), which are the state agencies responsible for making disability determinations. “While you are appealing, you should continue to provide information on doctors’ visits, hospital visits and medical tests, such as CT scans and MRIs,” Bueltemann said.

7.    Not keeping copies of applications, completed forms and records. “Good recordkeeping helps you avoid extra costs or time down the road, if disability examiners request them again,” Bueltemann said.

8.    Underestimating the extent of their disability. “A lot of people overlook the modifications they’ve made to their lives to cope with their disability,” Bueltemann said. “Because of this, they may say that their condition hasn’t changed at the appeal level. That’s a mistake when something has changed, whether they are experiencing more pain, have been in the hospital again or have undergone additional tests.”

9.    Missing out on representation services at any level of the process. More than three out of four disability claimants whose cases reach the hearing level have a representative, according to the SSA. Allsup provides representation services from the initial application through appeals.

10.    Applying on their own without weighing the pros and cons. There is a fee for using the services of a representative, but only if the claimant’s benefits are awarded. “If you receive your Social Security disability benefits early, when you first apply, then your fee is likely to be much less than if you wait to get help,” Bueltemann said. “Having a disability advocate improves your chances of receiving your benefits earlier when you clearly qualify.”

Knowing they have help also makes a difficult situation easier for people with disabilities. “Allsup’s disability experts have helped tens of thousands of people through the layers of disability appeal to receive their benefits with less stress and struggle,” Bueltemann said. “Our customers regularly tell us how easy Allsup made their disability appeals. That’s great to hear and it’s what we’re here for.”

Find more resources for people with disabilities and answers to questions about Social Security disability benefits at If you think you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits, contact Allsup’s Disability Evaluation Center at (800) 678-3276.

Allsup is a nationwide provider of Social Security disability, Medicare and Medicare Secondary Payer compliance services for individuals, employers and insurance carriers. Founded in 1984, Allsup employs more than 800 professionals who deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. The company is based in Belleville, Ill., near St. Louis. Visit or connect with Allsup at

Rebecca Ray
(800) 854-1418, ext. 65065

Dan Allsup
(800) 854-1418, ext. 65760

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Rebecca Ray
(800) 854-1418, ext. 65065
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Dan Allsup
(800) 854-1418, ext. 65760
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