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What if the SSA denies my claim for benefits?

After you file a claim to receive Social Security disability benefits in California, someone from the Social Security Administration will review the information you provided and either approve or deny your request.

If you receive a denial letter, you have the right to appeal the decision through the process the SSA has set up for this purpose.

1. Reconsideration

If you have more evidence that you did not include with the original application, such as new medical test results, for example, you may submit this with your appeal during the reconsideration step. A different SSA representative will look over all your information to provide a fresh set of eyes. In general, people do not speak directly to the representative during the review process. However, if your appeal is regarding an improvement to your medical condition that you believe does not disqualify you for benefits, you may wish to make an appointment to discuss this in person. 

2. Hearing

The next step for a negative response is a hearing. At this stage, you may provide new evidence and bring witnesses with you to appeal the decision before an administrative law judge. You have the right to bring representation, as well.

3. Appeals Council

The council could approve the judge's decision, send it back for another hearing or review the case and make a decision. Your request for review could also be denied.

4. Federal Court

If you believe that the SSA is not treating your case fairly, you have the right to file a lawsuit. 

This information is general in nature. It is not intended as a replacement for legal advice.

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