If you receive a denial letter from Social Security regarding your application for Social Security disability benefits, you must appeal that denial of benefits within 60 days.
Initial disability claims get denied for many reasons, and many denials have nothing to do with the merit of your disability claim. A common mistake made by claimants is that, instead of appealing a denied claim, they reapply again (and are denied again). Avoid that mistake! You will improve your chances of receiving benefits if you get some help from a lawyer and appeal that denied claim.
By appealing, you will ultimately have a hearing with a U.S. Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The hearing level is your best chance to have your claim for disability benefits granted. The chart below, which shows year 2009 allowances/denials, demonstrates this point.
The chart shows that in 2009 there were 2,686,152 initial claims, but only 546,599 Reconsideration determinations. Ten states, including New Hampshire, don't have the intermediate Reconsideration step, so you can't exactly compare those two sets of figures. Nevertheless, it is clear from these statistics that many Social Security disability claimants did not appeal the initial denial of their claim. Yet the chart demonstrates that the likelihood of receiving benefits increases if you appeal your claim.
Get to the hearing level
The top row of the chart shows that 37% of the initial disability applications were granted nationwide. 63% were denied. These are national statistics, but the allowance rate in Maine is almost identical.
The second row shows that, of the denied claims that were appealed, 86% were denied again at the Reconsideration level.
But look at what happens at the hearing level (row 3). On a national basis, 63% of the claims are allowed. I would say that percentage is even higher at the Portland Maine hearing office and at the Manchester NH hearing office. So if you appeal your denied claim to the hearing level, your chances of receiving disability benefits increase significantly. So please make sure to appeal your denial of benefits.
Here is the full 2009 Waterfall Chart, which also shows Appeals Council decisions and federal court decisions.