You must do five things upon learning that your application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) has been denied:

  • Remain calm
  • Refuse to accept that initial no as a final answer
  • Read all the documentation the agency sent along with its rejection letter
  • Consult with a dedicated Columbus disability attorney
  • Appeal (and, maybe, appeal again)

Stay the Course

Taking the first two steps are essential because you were no doubt counting on receiving benefits you spent a lifetime paying toward. SSDI funds comes from the F.I.C.A. with holdings you miss every time you get paid. The program exists to provide beneficiaries with cash to pay rent or a mortgage, buy food, and afford essentials like clothes once they become too disabled to continue earning regular paychecks. Unlike Ohio Workers’ Compensation, the federal Social Security Administration awards benefits even when a disabling condition does not arise from a work-related incident.

Becoming angry and discouraged when your government fails you is understandable but counterproductive. Many, if not most, first-time SSDI applications get denied for reasons ranging from insufficient and incorrectly completed paperwork to questions over the nature and degree of disability. Correcting errors and clarifying misinterpretations are possible, but a notice of intent to appeal that includes the general grounds for appealing must be filed within a month of receiving the rejection letter.

Learn Your Options

You must know why you can appeal the SSDI denial and be able to explain the reason to the agency. The agency’s letter and supporting documents should provide all the information needed for figuring that out, but the material is likely to be phrased in language that obscures the meaning. Learn what you can, then pick up the phone to speak with an experienced and knowledgeable Social Security lawyer in Columbus, Ohio, who can translate the bureaucratese to everyday English.

You have the right to work with a legal advisor and representative from the second you decide to start thinking about maybe applying for SSDI benefits. If you did not exercise that right before having to appeal, now is the time to enlist the assistance of someone who knows the ins and outs of Social Security Disability Insurance, someone who has navigated the system successfully in the past, and someone who has well-established professional relationships with the staff of the local Social Security office.


Receiving SSDI benefits can require going through four levels of official appeals and taking the federal government to civil court. That is daunting but doable. Few cases progress so far, but recognizing that the SSDI appeals process can be so complex and protracted should offer hope as much as it intimidates. Success is possible at each stage, and your SSDI appeals attorney can connect you with health care and other resources to tide you over while fighting for federal disability benefits.

If you need help with a Social Security case, contact the legal team at the Columbus, OH, offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell and Portman. The first consultation will cost you nothing, so do not hesitate to reach out online or to call (800) 678-3318.