Reconsideration is the next step in the Social Security disability adjudication process for those who are initially denied after applying for disability. As the waterfall chart shows, obtaining disability benefits at Reconsideration is the exception, rather than the rule.
I had a client just awarded benefits at Reconsideration on a long-haul COVID claim, so Reconsideration is on my mind today.
I have written before about winning at Reconsideration. That earlier post discusses additional medical evidence at the Reconsideration stage. Since then, I have increased my focus on the vocational aspects of the claims at Reconsideration in my practice.
The first step after an initial denial is to ask for a copy of the Disability Determination Explanation from the local Social Security office. That explanation will tell you in granular detail how the claim was evaluated by Social Security, and why the claim was denied.
Take a look at the vocational part of the determination. If you have an applicant over the age of 50 who was denied because they could perform a past relevant job as generally performed in the national economy, that is a big red flag.
Don’t be afraid to submit a new Work History Report. Claimants often file Work History Reports at the initial level (before they are represented) that are incomplete or contain errors. Give Social Security complete and accurate information in an updated report.
Finally, communicate your theory of the case to the new disability examiner. I have found it effective to write a short (usually one page) letter to the disability examiner explaining why the claim should be allowed. I usually follow up with a call to the disability examiner to briefly discuss the evidence, and make sure the examiner is aware of our theory of the case.
Follow the steps above (and continue to develop the medical evidence) and you will win more cases at Reconsideration. For the claims that you do not win at Reconsideration, the claim will be in a much stronger position at the hearing level, due to your efforts during Reconsideration.