How long does it take for a disability attorney to file a disability appeal?

"I hired an attorney right-away with my initial application. Seven months after my initial claim, I was denied. It has been a week since I received my denial letter. Is it normal for an attorney's office to take so long to file an appeal? Should I have them send me proof that they filed my appeal?"

I generally take the view that a disability appeal be filed as soon as possible following the receipt of a social security notice of denial. The reason, of course, is plain. Though the social security administration allows claimants 60 days in which to file an appeal, there's no reason to add any more days to the total processing time for a case than is absolutely necessary. After all, the longer a case drags on, the more precarious your financial situation may become.

How long it takes a disability attorney to file an appeal, and how they view the urgency of filing appeals, can vary substantially. I know one individual whose office seems to think that as long as the appeal is filed by the deadline date, everything is fine. Obviously, when it comes to preserving the best interests of a disability claimant, that sort of attitude is less than optimal. In the filing of appeals, my own preferred approach has been to do the appeal as soon as the notice of denial is received and to let no grass grow beneath it.

Is it normal for an attorney's office to take a week or more to do a disability appeal? I'm sure that it's not abnormal. Consider, however, that many disability representatives and disability attorneys have support staff that perform such functions and that, oftentimes, these support staff members are juggling multiple tasks and quite a few clients. Therefore, simply to ensure that your own case receives the attention it deserves, it is never a bad idea to contact your representative's office to A) notify them that you have received a notice of denial (just in case they don't receive their copy) and B) to inquire as to when your appeal will be submitted.

If you've already attempted to get the status of the filing of your appeal from your attorney and have not received a call back, you may wish to leave another message stating that you need confirmation that they have received their copy of the denial notice and confirmation that the appeal has been filed or will be filed soon. If you do not get a call back and your attorney is local, you may wish to make a personal visit to your attorney's office. Unannounced drop-bys are not a favorite among many reps (disability representatives with larger caseloads can be fairly busy due to their hearings schedule, preparation for hearings, travel time to hearings, and so forth), but it may get you a quick answer as to the disposition of your appeal.

And, yes, your attorney or non-attorney representative should always send you confirmation that your appeal has been filed (typically a copy of what has been submitted to SSA for your own records).

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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