Unemployed and divorced woman with debts reviewing her monthly billsDenial is not an uncommon outcome for Social Security Disability claims filed in Illinois. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration gives applicants the opportunity to challenge denied SSD claims. A well-written appeal letter is an important part of this process, as it lets the applicant describe why the SSA’s decision merits reconsideration.

Supporting the claim

Applicants should list personal identifying information at the top of the letter. This includes name, address, Social Security number and Social Security case number. The case number can be found in the denial letter. Applicants should also provide personal contact information.

In the first paragraph of the letter, applicants should state that they wish to appeal the SSA’s decision. Applicants may include recent medical developments, such as changes to the condition or its symptoms, in this paragraph. Applicants may also correct or challenge any reasons for the claim decision provided in the denial letter.

In additional paragraphs, applicants may provide more detail and supporting information. An applicant might discuss the following aspects of the disabling condition:

  • Development and prognosis
  • Emotional effects and other side effects
  • Cumulative effect on daily life
  • Financial consequences

Applicants should double-check information for accuracy before including it in the letter. Innocent misstatements or exaggerations can make an applicant appear less honest. This can greatly lower the likelihood of a successful appeal.

Additional appeal steps

An SSD appeal letter serves only to notify the SSA that the applicant wishes to appeal a denied claim. Applicants still must initiate the appeals process by completing a Request for Reconsideration form within 65 days of the denial. This form asks for identifying information and reasons the denial was wrongful. Applicants can complete the form online or turn a paper copy into a local SSA office.

When appealing a first-time denial, applicants also must sign medical release forms. These should be taken to a physical SSA office regardless of how the Request for Reconsideration was submitted. Applicants should turn in any new medical records or other supporting evidence with the release forms.

People who send in a Request for Consideration online or through the mail should always save copies of the application. These applicants should also follow up with the SSA to make sure the form was received. This helps ensure that the appeal request is completed before the 65-day deadline passes.

The SSA recognizes certain valid reasons for late appeal requests. However, in most cases, applicants who miss the deadline have to start the SSD application process over entirely. This can significantly delay the SSA’s final decision and the awarding of any benefits.