Filing a Social Security Disability or SSI appeal online

If you need to file a Social Security Disability or SSI disability appeal, you can do it the standard paper route. Just make sure you 1. request the appeal within 60 days of the date of your last denial, 2. submit the paperwork within the 60-day time frame alloted to you (it's actually 65 days since the social security administration allows you an extra five days for mailing time), and 3. certainly make sure that you keep a copy of everything you submit for yourself (when it comes to paper, SSA has this nasty habit of either not receiving what you've sent, losing it, or claiming to have lost it).

Paper appeals will probably always be an option for SSD and SSI disability claimants, simply because, though most people are now online, there will always be a percentage of the population that is not. Also, since applying for disability benefits and filing disability appeals can be an extraordinarily long process that exacts a heavy financial toll on claimants (not having income for a year or more can have this effect), claimants who could previously afford the cost of internet connectivity may not have this option at a later date.

But, claimants who are net connected may wish to consider filing their disability appeal online. What advantage would there be in this? Well, let's examine how the process used to work and how it currently works.

Social security claims reps used to receive all appeals on paper (...since that was the only option available). Now, though, since SSA has moved into the electronic age, disability appeals become part of a claimant's electronic file. This is completely automatic if a Social Security Disability or SSI disability appeal was filed online because, by default, it becomes part of the electronic file. However, appeals that are sent in on paper have to be manually entered by social security claims reps.

Social security claims reps HATE THIS.

Why? Here's why. When claims reps are in the position of transferring into the computer all the information that is recorded on a handwritten paper appeal, they have to do exactly that. They have to record everything, exactly as the claimant wrote it. No matter what the claimant wrote, how much the claimant wrote, or HOW the claimant wrote it (some people write book length answers to questions and some people, like myself, have handwriting that looks, at best, like drunken chicken scratch).

This presents a nightmare for a claims rep, a nightmare that did not exist when all appeals were filed on paper, but which now exists because paper appeals must be manually entered by claims reps into the SSA electronic folder system.

So, what happens when an appeal is received on paper at a social security field office versus being submitted online? Well, having some knowledge of human behavior and the fact that most people will tend to avoid tasks that require more work (and which piss them off), I would hazard to say that paper appeals...tend to get less TLC from claims reps, i.e. they don't exactly receive "high priority status" (this has also been relayed to me by field office personnel who, for obvious reasons, will remain unnamed).

So, if you have the inclination and the ability, you might want to consider filing your Social Security Disability or SSI appeal online.

And, if you are an attorney or non attorney representative for disability claims, you really should be filing your appeals online, simply to get your appeals out of the DO or FO faster and on to the state agency (in most states, known as DDS, or disability determination services).

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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