How to Apply for a Disability Reconsideration

Three Parts:Applying for Reconsideration of a Medical DenialRequesting Reconsideration of a Non-Medical DenialGetting Assistance

The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers benefits for people who are disabled. In order to qualify, you must have worked a sufficient amount of time and meet the agency’s definition of disabled. If your application is rejected, you may ask for reconsideration. When SSA reconsiders your application, your claim is completely reviewed by someone who did not participate in the original denial. You may submit new evidence to bolster your claim.[1]

Part 1
Applying for Reconsideration of a Medical Denial

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    Gather necessary medical records. You should send to SSA any medical records that you think will help the agency properly reconsider your application.[2]
    • Helpful documents include medical reports or forms, or any written statement by a doctor or someone else that relates to your disability.[3]
    • If your disability has worsened, then you can get a doctor’s report to that effect. SSA is denying your disability request because it does not believe that you are sufficiently disabled. You need medical evidence, in the form of reports or letters from doctors, explaining the disability.
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    Apply for reconsideration online. When you were denied disability benefits for medical reasons, you have the option of appealing online. Visit the Social Security Administration website at and click on “Appeal Our Recent Medical Decision.” You will need the following information to help complete the online form:[4]
    • the names of medicines you are taking
    • changes in your daily activities, medical conditions, work, or education
    • additional tests or medical treatments you have received since initially applying, including the names of doctors and hospitals
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    Download forms. If you don’t want to appeal online, you have the option of downloading forms from the SSA website. You should download the following:
    • Request for Reconsideration (SSA-561)
    • Disability Report—Appeal (SSA-3441)
    • Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration (SSA-827)
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    Complete the forms. If you are filling out a paper application, then you can type the information into the PDF or print the forms off and insert the information by using a typewriter or by writing neatly in black ink. Answer every question, inserting “none” or “N/A” if necessary.[5] To help you fill out the forms, gather the following information:
    • the claimant’s Social Security Number and Claim number (if different)
    • the reason why you disagree with SSA’s determination
    • the claimant’s contact information (mailing address and telephone number)
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    Mail the forms. You should return the forms to your local Social Security Office. You may find the office’s address by calling 1-800-772-1213 or by looking in your telephone directory under “U.S. Government agencies.”[6]
    • Be sure to keep a copy of the application for your records.
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    Attend an interview. SSA may schedule an interview in their office. If so, you should bring copies of your medical records as well as any prescription drugs that you are taking.[7]
    • This interview will most likely only take place if your benefits have been discontinued because SSA believes that your condition has improved. You will be able to meet with an SSA representative to explain why you still have a disability.[8]
    • You can prepare for your interview by looking over your “Disability Report—Appeal” (SSA-3441). In particular, look at Section 3—Medical Conditions. You will want to discuss with the interviewer how your medical condition has worsened since you applied for disability. You should also be prepared to discuss any new medical conditions.

Part 2
Requesting Reconsideration of a Non-Medical Denial

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    Identify a non-medical denial. The appeal process is somewhat different if you are appealing a denial based on a non-medical reason. These might include:[9]
    • you did not work long enough to qualify for disability benefits
    • you do not agree that you have received any overpayment SSA has contacted you about
    • you were denied another type of benefit (retirement or spouse’s benefit)
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    Download the form. You cannot appeal online; instead, you will need to download Request for Reconsideration (SSA-561). This form is available from the Social Security Administration’s website at
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    Complete the form. Type or print neatly, and answer every question. If a question doesn’t apply, then type “none” or “N/A” so that SSA knows you did not accidentally skip the question. The form will ask for the following information:[10]
    • your name, Social Security Number, and claim number
    • the issue you are appealing
    • your reason why you do not agree with SSA’s decision
    • your contact information (mailing address and telephone number)
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    Mail the form. You should send the form to your local SSA office, which you can find in the phone book or by calling 1-800-772-1213.[11] Keep a copy of the completed form for your records.

Part 3
Getting Assistance

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    Think about meeting with a lawyer. An experienced Social Security attorney will be able to help you make the best case possible on reconsideration and can also help you with any subsequent appeal. An attorney is also essential if you have a terminal illness and need an expedited decision.[12] To find an experienced attorney, you can contact your state’s bar association, which should run a referral program.
    • You should understand how attorneys bill on Social Security matters. Essentially, lawyers will represent you on “contingency.” This means that you pay nothing upfront. Instead, the lawyer will take a percentage of any disability back pay that you are owed.
    • By law, attorneys are limited to 25% of your backpay or $6,000, whichever is less.[13] You will also have to pay for charges like postage and photocopying.[14]
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    Find an advocate. You also have the option of hiring a disability advocate.[15] These can be attorneys or non-attorneys who help you with your reconsideration claim. Advocates are paid the same as attorneys (25% of backpay), but they may be easier to find than a lawyer.
    • To find a disability advocate, you can search your phone book or the Internet for “disability advocate.”
    • Be aware that if you hire a disability advocate instead of a lawyer, then he or she cannot represent you at later stages in the appeal because they have not been admitted to represent people in court.
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    Call SSA with questions. If you have questions about applying for reconsideration, then you should contact SSA at 1-800-772-1213 with any questions. They are open Monday through Friday, 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.[16]


  • Very few reconsiderations are successful. However, you should still continue to appeal. If your reconsideration is denied, you have 60 days to request a hearing.[17]

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Categories: Disability Forms Permits and Benefits