How to Write an Appeal for Social Security

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Be honest about any changes in your medical or financial situation for the best chance of approval.
Be honest about any changes in your medical or financial situation for the best chance of approval. (Image: Paul Burns/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Filing an appeal for a denied Social Security claim is simple and accessible. If you were denied Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplementary Security Income for medical reasons, you can appeal online. For other instances, you can write and mail an appeal letter--but keep in mind that all parts of the decision will be reconsidered, including the parts that were in your favor. Additionally, your letter of denial will indicate how you should appeal. You may not need to write a letter at all, instead, you may need to request reconsideration, having another agent look at your application. You may also have to participate in a hearing by an administrative law judge, be reviewed by an appeals council or go to Federal Court.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • Phone
  • Medical information
  • Personal information

Appeal online if you were denied SSDI or SSI for medical reasons, (see Resources) You will fill out two forms: the Appeal Request form, which takes about 20 minutes to complete and the Appeal Disability Report, which takes an average of 30 minutes to complete. You can save your Disability Report online and return to your computer later to finish it, if you need to.

Prepare all necessary information for the appeal forms. For the first form, you'll need your Social Security number, name, address, phone number, Notice of Decision and information about your representative if you have one. For part two, you will need detailed information about your medical condition, doctors' information, names of recent medical tests and prescription information. The application will give you a detailed explanation of each of these requirements.

If you don't qualify to apply online or you'd simply rather not apply online, call the SSA's main line, 800-772-1213, and explain that you'd like to appeal their decision. They can mail you the necessary forms or you can print them off from the SSA's website. (see Resources) When you have completed the forms, mail them to your local Social Security office. (see Resources)

If you have been denied for non-medical reasons--for example, if you haven't worked long enough under Social Security or you're over the income limit for SSI--mail your appeal request form within 60 days of the denial. Write the reasons you believe the SSA’s decision is incorrect and state that you would like to appeal the decision. Provide your name and contact information and sign the letter. See your denial letter for the address to which you should mail your appeal request.

The Social Security office, which determines eligibility for benefits, will notify you by mail with a decision. If your appeal is denied again, you will move into the next appropriate level of the appeal process. Your letter of denial will tell you what steps to take next.

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