How long do you have to file your SSA disability appeals?

In a prior post, I discussed the topic of Social Security Disability application deadlines, basically stating that there is no deadline for social security to make a decision on a case (as opposed to adult medicaid claims that are based on disability and which do have a distinct deadline for processing). A case can take a few weeks to decide, or several months, though most initial claims are decided in under 4 months.

In this post, however, I'll state once more the fact that Social Security Disability appeals (and this goes for SSI disability claims as well) always have a filing deadline of 60 days from the date of the last denial.

In other words, if you are a claimant who has applied for disability and you receive a notice of denial in the mail, you will have 60 days from the date stamped on the denial letter to get your appeal on record with the social security administration. This first appeal is known as a request for reconsideration.

Likewise, if you have been denied for disability, filed your first disability appeal, and then been denied on this (the reconsideration), you will also have 60 days from the date on the denial notice to file your next appeal (a request for hearing before an administrative law judge).

At the risk of being redundant, you always have 60 days to file a disability appeal, regardless of the level at which your claim was last denied, making the topic of appeal deadlines fairly simple in one sense. However, there are additional things to point out.

1. The social security administration does not make an effort to inform claimants of this, but claimants are also given an additional five days to get their appeal in and this is to account for "mailing time". Which, all things considered, is fairly generous.

2. Meeting the deadline to file a Social Security Disability appeal or SSI disability appeal does not simply equate to mailing your appeal paperwork by the last day and having your mailing envelope postmarked by the deadline date (so many people seem to think this, but its a false assumption).

Meeting the deadline to file a disability appeal means having your appeal paperwork received by the social security office by the deadline date.

Number 2 is very very important. And what it really means is that because neither claimants nor the social security administration have any control over the U.S. mail, disability claimants should really get their disability appeal paperwork mailed in immediately.

In fact, my own advice is to get the appeal completed (online or by mailing) within days of being notified that a disability denial has been issued.

Represented claimants, of course, shouldn't have to worry about missing a deadline because this what their disability lawyer or non-attorney claimant's representative will do for them in the course of their duties.

However, claimants bear some responsibility here as well. What do I mean by this? Simply that social security, when they issue a denial, will send a copy of the denial notice to both the claimant and the representative---however, sometimes they neglect to send a copy to one or both parties.

Therefore, for this reason, claimants who are represented and receive a denial letter should not simply assume that their representative is aware of the denial and is in the process of filing an appeal. Instead, claimants who have been denied should immediately notify their representative to make sure that both parties are aware, and so that an appeal deadline will not be missed.

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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