Submitting a Social Security Disability Appeal on Time
The disability determination process is at best a “hurry up and wait” experience for most applicants. The average wait to receive a decision from the state disability determination services agency in charge of making disability decisions for the social security administration (SSA) is about 3 to 4 months. However, it can take 6 months to a year to find out if a claim is approved for benefits, depending on many factors, one of which is certainly a backlog of cases piling up on disability examiners’ desks across the country.
Sadly, those filing for social security disability (SSD) or SSI will find that SSA is not quite as understanding of claimants’ need for more time, particularly when it comes to filing a reconsideration appeal. Those who are turned down for disability have the option of appealing the disability examiner’s denial of benefits if they file an intent to appeal within 60 days. Those who miss this deadline must start all over again with a new claim, delaying a decision in their case by several months to a year.
Do many claimants really fail to file their appeal within the two-month period? Surprisingly, the answer to this is yes. While there are undoubtedly a variety of legitimate factors that contribute to the missed deadlines, you can make sure that your case doesn’t fall through the cracks and is decided as quickly as possible if you keep the following points in mind:
1. Do not procrastinate when you receive notification that your initial claim for disability has been denied. Upon receiving your denial notification, call the social security office immediately to let them know that you intend to file a reconsideration appeal, and ask that the necessary forms be sent to your mailing address. If your request for reconsideration appeal has been denied, then immediately call social security to request a hearing before an administrative law judge, and ask that any paperwork regarding this matter be sent to your mailing address.
2. Fill out any return your appeal paperwork as soon as you receive it. Some claimants get so dejected over being denied benefits that they begin to question if they want to continue with the process at all, and delay making a decision in this matter until the deadline has passed and it is too late. Remember, you can always decide not to go through with the appeal later, but if you miss the deadline, you have no choice but to give up or start over.
You have two months, or 60 days in which to get this paperwork in to Social Security, but the sooner you get it in, the sooner you will receive a decision on your appeal. You should always request your own appeals paperwork, even if you have hired a disability lawyer to do this for you, because you want to make sure that control of your case remains in your hands at all times. If for some reason you decide you do not wish to retain him or her any longer, you can file your own appeal and proceed without great inconvenience to the next level of consideration.
3. If you have retained the services of a disability lawyer or non-attorney representative (a non-attorney representative is someone who has prior experience in the disability system, such as a social worker or former disability examiner, claims rep, etc.) make sure that SSA has notified him or her of your intent to appeal. Although it’s your disability representative’s duty to take care of appeals deadlines for you, it never hurts to double-check—sometimes Social Security fails to notify the legal representative involved with a proceeding of its status, though technically they are required to do so.
In other words, the best way to make sure you do not miss a deadline is to avoid procrastination and to ensure that you yourself are aware of all important dates related to your case. Do not assume that SSA, your disability lawyer, or anyone else involved in your case will not make a mistake—it happens all the time. However, by staying on top of the status of your case, you can greatly lessen the chances that it will be one of those that fall through the cracks of the disability system.
For information on Social Security Disability, visit the
Social Security Disability Benefits Resource Center