If the SSA denies your disability claim and you don’t agree with their decision, you have the right to file an appeal. The tricky part is how to write an effective disability appeal letter that will convince them to give your case a second chance.
If you’re out of your wits trying to compose a decent appeal statement, we prepared this quick guide on how to write a disability appeal letter. But first, let me give you a quick overview of the SSA appeals process.
How the SSA Appeals Process Works
Whether your claim is approved or denied, the SSA will send you a notice of their decision by mail. If it’s a denial, the SSA’s decision notice usually contains the reason why your claim got denied and the sources they used to evaluate your claim. It will also include instructions on how to make an appeal as well as a guide on what level of appeal you should choose.
The appeals process has four levels:
- hearing by an administrative law judge
- review by the appeals council
- federal court review
Your appeal request will depend on the level of appeal you are going for. But most of the time, a disability appeal letter is submitted to request for reconsideration.
Also enclosed in the decision notice are social security appeal forms which you can also download online. You need to complete and submit these forms to the SSA if you want to file an appeal (we’ll discuss this later).
If you can convince them to reconsider your claim, then there might not be a need for you to go through all four levels of the appeals process. But, of course, this depends on how convincing your appeal is.
Before Writing the Letter
Here are some things to keep in mind before starting your letter:
1. Understand Why Your Claim Was Denied
As mentioned, the reasons why the SSA denied your claim will be detailed in their decision notice. As such, you need to carefully read their decision and understand why you were not approved for disability benefits. It will help you come up with a convincing argument for your case.
The SSA usually denies a disability claim due to either medical or non-medical reasons. But it can also be because of both. The notice will usually explain this in a clear and easy-to-understand manner.
2. Determine Which Impairments the SSA Evaluated
If you have several impairments, the SSA may not be able to evaluate them all. The notice will also list the impairments the SSA has evaluated. If there are impairments that they missed out on, you need to point them out in your appeal letter.
3. Examine the Sources Used to Evaluate Your Claim
The SSA will also list down their sources for evaluating your claim. If you disagree with them or have better sources, you can also include them in your letter.
Writing the Disability Appeal Letter
Here are some tips for writing an effective disability appeal letter:
1. Indicate Your Name and Claim Number at the Top
Yes, the SSA appeal form will already bear your name and other details. But it’s not uncommon for the attached letter to get separated from the forms. Writing your name and claim number in the upper part of the letter will help the SSA staff determine which letter goes with which form.
2. Point Out Any Mistakes or Oversights
If you see any mistakes or any information the SSA has missed, you need to point it out in your letter. Be specific and, if possible, state the paragraph and line on the notice where the error can be found.
3. Supply Missing Medical Information
If your claim was denied due to medical reasons, you need to include medical information that the SSA has missed (if any). Just make sure you have proper evidence to back it up.
4. Attach Medical Records or Any Additional Evidence
To make your appeal more convincing, you need to attach evidence backing up your claim. This can include:
- medical records showing that your condition is more severe than the SSA believes;
- recent medical records from your doctor indicating that your condition has worsened;
- a written statement from your treating doctor detailing your disability and exact limitations;
- new medical test results showing the extent of your condition;
- any other documents that will support your claim
5. Stick to the Point
With thousands of appeals to work on, you need to make sure that you get your point across as briefly as possible. Stick to the point of your argument, and don’t include any information that has nothing to do with your appeal.
6. Be as Detailed as Possible
Despite being brief, you need to include as many details as possible. It will make your appeal more convincing if you have the details to back it up.
7. Be Polite and Professional
This goes without saying. Remember that you are the one making a request. As such, it pays to be polite and courteous in your letter. Also, make sure that your letter looks and sounds professional. Write it on a plain clean sheet of paper (typewritten or computerized, if possible). If you’re writing it by hand, make sure to make as few mistakes or erasures as possible.
Sending the Appeal Letter
Send your appeal letter together with the required forms and documentary attachments to the address indicated in the appeals instructions. The SSA also has an online platform where you can submit your appeal. But you can always submit them in person at any SSA office near you.
Remember that you need to submit a written appeal within 60 days of receiving the notice containing the SSA’s decision.
Sample Appeal Letter
Here’s a sample letter that you can also use as a template for your own disability appeal letter:
Social Security Administration
3201 W Commercial Blvd STE 100,
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Attn: Appeals Department
To Whom It May Concern:
I write this disability appeal letter in response to your recent denial of my application for disability benefits. Though I respect your decision, I am requesting that my application be reconsidered.
On July 2, 2019, I was involved in a work-related accident on-site. I went through multiple surgeries. I tried going back to work for a month, but it was clear that my injury prevented me from fulfilling my job. Headaches, blurred vision, and joint pain made it impossible to do my tasks properly. My employer reassigned me to an office-based position, but the headaches and blurred vision persisted. It was very difficult for me to maintain paperwork or stare at computer monitors for extended periods in that condition. This led to my employer letting me go on August 10, 2019.
I tried applying for other types of jobs, but my condition makes even driving to work a real struggle.
This package includes recent medical records, operations appointments, treatments, and medications that may not have been considered during your evaluation process. There are notarized letters from my general physician and two surgeons attesting to my inability to function in even the mildest office environment. I am prepared to take any tests needed to substantiate this.
Thank you for your patience, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
How to Complete Social Security Appeal Forms
As I said, your denial notice will include social security appeal forms that you need to submit together with your appeal letter. If your claim was denied for medical reasons, you need to complete three types of forms:
- Disability Report – Appeal (Form SSA-3441)
- Authorization to Disclose Information (Form SSA-827)
- Request for Reconsideration (Form SSA-561)
But if the denial is due to non-medical reasons, you only need to submit the last one. If you are requesting a hearing instead of a reconsideration, you need to submit a Request for Hearing by the Administrative Law Judge (Form HA-501). You can also use this to request a reconsideration of your SSI claim.
The primary purpose of the Disability Report – Appeal form is to update your information with the SSA. You can use this to inform the SSA of new developments in your medical condition or work status. If your condition got worse and you can’t work anymore, it will help your claim to inform the SSA about such. The Authorization to Disclose Information, on the other hand, is effectively just granting the SSA permission to look through your medical records and other personal information.
Most of the forms have instructions on the first page on how to complete them. You just need to read through it and make sure you follow the SSA’s instructions carefully. Each form has different sets of instructions and reminders. But here are some general tips to keep in mind when completing these forms:
- write clearly and legibly
- be consistent with your answers
- do not leave any section blank (unless otherwise specified)
- answer the questions truthfully (avoid exaggerations)
Check out our quick guide on how to answer social security disability questionnaires for more tips and detailed instructions.
Please note that there is only a small portion on the form where you can write your appeal statement. But you can always add the phrase “see attached page” and write your appeal letter on a separate sheet of paper.
Should You Hire a Lawyer?
Yes, hiring a lawyer can increase your chances of getting approved this time around. An experienced social security disability lawyer like Victor Malca knows the SSA rules and regulations like the back of his hand. He also has plenty of experience appealing denied disability claims and has helped many disabled individuals get the benefits they deserve. He can help you get yours too. Call us now for a free consultation.
VICTOR MALCA – Florida Workers Compensation & Social Security Disability Attorney
Victor Malca P.A. has over 27 years of litigation experience in Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability lawsuits. His experience and continued success when fighting for his clients puts him among the most trusted workers’ compensation attorney’s in Florida. He specializes in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claiming lost social security disability benefits.
Book a free consultation today. Our unwavering advocacy for employee rights and privileges are recognized by our past clients across South Florida.
About The Author
Judy Ponio is a writer and editor for the Victor Malca Law P.A. website and blog. She enjoys helping people in need with questions about social security disability and workers compensation law. She has a passion for helping those in need and the elderly with accurate legal information that can make a positive difference in their lives.