After an initial claim is received by the local Disability Determination Service (DDS), the DDS will make a determination based on the information in the file. In most cases, the initial claim for disability benefits will be denied. Once the initial denial happens, the claim moves into an area called Reconsideration if the claimant appeals the decision.
Once an initial claim is denied, reconsideration is the second step in the overall application process and while redundant, it is still a necessary step to take. Claimants cannot request a hearing before a judge (the third step) without going through reconsideration first.
Upon initial denial, the Disability Determination Service will send a letter explaining why your disability claim was denied along with a request form for reconsideration. This form must be filled out and returned within sixty (60) days of the initial denial. During this time, additional information can also be gathered and added to the particular claim that is under review.
Reconsideration is an administrative process where another person from the same agency will review the claim. This is a rather redundant process, and most reconsideration cases are also denied before being sent to the hearing level. Because of this, the Social Security Administration is experimenting with removing this step all together. By eliminating reconsideration, the process of getting a hearing is faster and more efficient.
Many claimants contact a Social Security attorney at this stage because reconsideration officially begins the appeal process. Having legal representation is important but not necessary. However, most appeals get handled by a Social Security attorney specializing in Social Security Disability claims at some point during the process. Getting help early in the application process can save time down the line. While having an attorney will not speed up the process, their expertise can prevent mistakes from making the process longer than it needs to be.