Filing Your Social Security Disability Appeal on Time. Before discussing time limits on filing Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims, let me address a common question I receive from clients. I often get asked whether an individual should appeal their current claim or file a new application. There are very few reasons why you should file a new claim if you still have the ability to appeal a recent denial. If you are filing a new claim just to see if the Social Security Administration (SSA) will find you disabled with a new application, I advise my clients that appealing an initial denial is likely the best course of action. Most initial applications for Social Security disability benefits are denied. My experience is that your chances of winning your claim increase by appealing your claim and pursuing a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). I have seen clients with numerous initial application denials in the past win their claim for benefits by going through the appeals process.
The first step in the appeal process is called a “Request for Reconsideration.” This is asking the Social Security Administration to take another look at your disability claim because you believe they have made an error. The filing deadline is 60 days from the date on the denial letter plus an additional 5 days for mailing. There are various reasons why an initial application for benefits can be denied. These can include the following: exceeding allowable resource amounts, working and earning income above the levels the SSA allows, the SSA believes your disability is not severe enough, or other reasons. After you determine the reason you were denied, you can decide if you believe you have a valid reason to ask the SSA to look at it again. This is the most common stage of the process where I am asked for legal assistance to help pursue the claim.
If your Request for Reconsideration is denied, the next step is to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Once again, you have 60 days from the date on your Request for Reconsideration denial letter, plus 5 days for mailing, to file the necessary appeal. Unfortunately, the wait time to get a hearing before an ALJ is extremely long. During this period, I encourage my clients to continue with needed medical treatment, get appropriate objective testing, and keep my office informed of any changes in your case. When your hearing is scheduled, you should be notified by mail. In my office, this begins the final process of ensuring all medical documentation is up to date. As the hearing nears, my office strives to answer all questions regarding case readiness and make sure you are properly prepared for your hearing.
In my experience, it is important to proceed through the appeals process in a timely manner to prevent extra delays in receiving the benefits you deserve. If you miss a step or a deadline, you may have to start your claim from the beginning, or worse, be prevented from receiving disability benefits in the future. The SSA will not file these appeals on your behalf, so you need to take action to ensure your claim proceeds. Hiring a Social Security Disability Attorney can assist in answering questions and ensure you meet crucial deadlines.
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Author: Scott Lewis