Social Security Disability: The Reconsideration Stage in Virginia



Keep fighting if the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies your initial application for disability benefits. You have options.


If you are unhappy with the SSA’s initial determination, then you can file a request for reconsideration appeal. Reconsideration is the first step in the SSA’s administrative review process. And it is the best option in almost every disability case.


Many people make the mistake of thinking that they must file a new Social Security Disability application if they are denied at the first level. But this isn’t true. Your claim is likely to be denied again if you reapply instead of requesting reconsideration.


This article explains the Social Security Disability reconsideration stage and what you can expect. If you have any questions about your case or are looking for legal representation, contact Richmond disability attorney and Social Security Disability lawyer Virginia Beach Corey Pollard for a free consultation. We help disabled adults and children throughout Virginia.


How Will I Know that the SSA Denied My Initial Application?


The SSA will send you a written notice if your initial application for benefits is denied. The denial letter will contain lots of generic language found in every denial letter but it should have at least one explanation paragraph about your medical condition. Make sure that you read the explanation paragraph for clues as to why you were denied.


How to Request Reconsideration of My Disability Denial?


If you are dissatisfied with the SSA’s initial determination, you may file a written request that the SSA reconsider it. In addition to the claimant any other person whose rights may be affected by the initial determination may request a reconsideration.


To request reconsideration you must file a written request at one of the SSA’s offices within 60 days of the date you receive notice that your initial application is denied. The notice of denial should contain a date in the top right corner. This is often considered the date you received notice of the denial, so you should request reconsideration within 60 days of this date.


You need to complete the following forms to request reconsideration:


  • Form SSA-561-U2: Request for Reconsideration
  • Form SSA-3441-BK: Disability Report – Appeal
  • Form SSA-827: Authorization for Source to Release Information to the SSA


Make sure that you use the forms provided by the SSA. You can obtain them by contacting our office or your local SSA field office. Once you complete all the forms you should send them to the SSA, along with any evidence in support of your claim.


If you do not file your request for reconsideration within the 60-day appeal period, you will likely need to start the application process over. Unless you show that you have good cause for missing the deadline to request review the SSA will dismiss your request. You may be able to show good cause for filing a late appeal if one of the following applies: you were seriously ill and your illness prevented you from requesting reconsideration; the SSA gave you incorrect or incomplete information; you did not receive notice of the initial denial; or, there was a death in your immediate family.


When you file a request for reconsideration with the SSA, your application and all available evidence is sent back to the Disability Determination Service (DDS) office that evaluated your initial application. A different examiner will conduct a case review, along with a medical consultant hired by DDS. This disability examiner is bound by the same rules and regulations as the person who reviewed your initial SSD claim and denied it. Because of this more than 80 percent of applications are denied at the reconsideration level. But you must go through this step.


If you’ve received an initial denial we can help you file the necessary paperwork to request reconsideration.


How Can I Improve My Chance of Getting Approved for SSD on Reconsideration?


After you or  your attorney requests reconsideration the SSA will review the evidence it considered in making its initial decision and any other evidence it receives. Because your claim was denied at the initial application level, you should review your SSA file to make sure that it includes everything you have submitted previously, including your relevant medical records.


You should also submit additional evidence. This evidence may include:


  • Doctors’ office notes
  • Hospital admission and discharge summaries
  • Medication lists
  • Operative reports
  • Statements from friends and family members


You should also review the initial application with your attorney to make sure that all the information on it, including educational background and work history, is correct. If you left out important information on the initial application, such as the physical requirements of your past job or doctors that you are seeing, then you have a chance of getting approved at the reconsideration level.


We also recommend filing your request for reconsideration right away. Though you have 60 days to submit it, there is no reason to wait until the last minute. It usually takes 3 to 6 months to complete the SSD reconsideration process and to receive a reconsideration decision from the SSA.


What Happens After I Receive a Reconsideration Decision?


The SSA will review the evidence in your case and make a determination based on the preponderance of the evidence (i.e., whether the evidence shows that you are more likely than not disabled). Then it will send you a letter stating its decision.


If your case is approved, great! If not then the reconsideration denial will state the specific reasons for the determination and tell you of the right to a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ).


The reconsideration determination is binding unless you or your attorney requests a hearing before an administrative law judge within 60 days of the date of the reconsideration denial. We recommend requesting a hearing in all cases.


Have a question about your legal rights? Need help getting approved for SSDI or SSI benefits? Call, text, or email Corey Pollard today. We win cases for disabled adults and children in Richmond, Chesterfield, Charlottesville, Fredericksburg, Newport News, Norfolk, Williamsburg, and VA Beach.