If you receive a Social Security Denial Letter, file a prompt appeal and do a followup on it

If you get a Social Security Disability denial letter, you shouldn't get overly concerned about the merits of your case. The truth is, the majority of all claims are denied at the disability application level. And even more claims are denied at the reconsideration appeal level, which is the very first level of appeal that is available to claimants.

If you receive a social security denial letter, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you need to send in a timely appeal. For the social security administration, timely means that they actually receive the SSD or SSI appeal paperwork from you within 60 days from the date of the denial. That date should be indicated, or stamped, in the upper right hand of the notice (notice of disapproved claim).

Some claimants fail to get their appeal forms returned within the 60 day deadline and this is typically due to procrastination or, in other cases, a bit of depression or anxiety over having been denied in the first place. Therefore, the best course of action to follow after a notice of denial has been received in the mail is to immediately contact social security and let them know that you wish to appeal. This will cause them to send you the necessary appeal forms.

Of course, if you have a disability attorney, immediately contact that person so they can get to work in submitting your appeal forms. It usually only takes about 15 minutes for such forms to be completed and just a few more minutes for the attorney to mail the forms to SSA, and also make copies for his file and copies to send to you for your own records.

Will the social security denial letter explain why you were denied? In a sense, but it tends to be boilerplate language that is basically meaningless. In other words, there will be no detailed explanation of how your medical records were evaluated and how your functional capacity and ability to return to work was calculated.

For this reason, it is entirely pointless in most cases to call social security to have them explain the denial. The best course of action is simply initiate the appeal process by calling social security. And if you have a disability lawyer, contact that person to have them actually file the forms.

Note: after you submit your disability appeal, it is an excellent idea to call social security a couple of weeks later to verify that they did, in fact, receive the forms in the mail. Doing this can stop a potential problem (missing the appeal deadline) before it begins.

Special note: the deadline for submitting a disability appeal is 60 days from the date of the denial notice. However, what SSA never informs claimants of is the fact that they also give claimants an additional five days for mailing time. Therefore, while the official appeal period is 60 days, claimants actually have 65 days.

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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