Social Security Disability Request for Reconsideration

If your initial application for Social Security disability benefits is denied, don’t get discouraged. Many applicants who are initially declined are ultimately awarded benefits. The first step toward securing benefits after a denial is called a Request for Reconsideration.

How Do I Request Reconsideration?

You may request reconsideration online at or by completing form SSA-561. If you request reconsideration online, you will be asked to choose whether you are disagreeing with a medical determination or a non-medical determination. In general terms, a medical determination is one that relates to your ability to work. A non-medical determination will be based on a technical requirement, such as your work history.

You may also choose to work with an attorney to request reconsideration. Sometimes, the reason the initial application was denied is that important information was left out—information you might not think about, but that our experienced Social Security disability attorneys and advocates know to look for. If your initial application was denied, schedule a free consultation so that a knowledgeable advocate can review your case.

What Happens After I Request Reconsideration?

“Reconsideration” means exactly what it sounds like. It isn’t an appeal or a full hearing. At the reconsideration stage, the local Disability Determination Services (DDS) office takes a second look at your case.

A reconsideration isn’t simply a review to determine whether the original case worker made a mistake. The new case worker reviews all of the information you and your medical providers have submitted exactly as he or she would have if this were the initial consideration. The new case worker reaches an independent decision, which may agree with or be different from the original determination.

If the reviewer determines that you are eligible for benefits, you will receive a letter explaining when you can expect to start receiving benefits and in what amount, just as you would have if benefits had been granted in response to your original application.

What if My Request for Reconsideration is Denied?

A very small percentage of applications are approved at the reconsideration stage, but it does happen occasionally. You should not be concerned if you receive another denial at this stage. For most Social Security disability applicants, the Request for Reconsideration is simply a necessary step to move your case along to the next stage, which is a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).

The ALJ hearing is the stage at which the largest percentage of Social Security disability claims are approved, and so may represent your best chance of receiving benefits. The process becomes more complex at this stage, and the applicant plays a more active role, so this is the point at which many applicants who have not already done so seek the assistance of a Social Security disability attorney.