If you’ve been denied benefits, you will receive a notice from the Social Security Administration (SSA) that explains how to appeal the denial. You must complete a Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge form to begin your appeals process. The deadline to file an appeal is 60 days from the day you received the notice.
We’ve listed some basics regarding appeals below for your general knowledge.
Timeline For Disability Appeals
In most states, the first level of appeal is review by the Disability Determination Service (DDS). This step entails reconsideration of the denial by a medical examiner and consultant. Depending on the caseload, you may get a response anywhere from a few weeks to few months.
The hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ) is the next level of appeal. You may have to wait a year or longer for a hearing date.
Appeals to a federal court can take anywhere from a year to several years. Federal courts handle various cases so you will have to wait your turn.
Retaining Legal Counsel
At first level of appeal, people generally do not have legal representation. However, 80% of claimants retain have lawyers further along the appeals process. The agency works with Social Security lawyers just as they would with you.
Instead of filing an appeal, you have to the option to reopen your claim. This means that whichever administrative level has your claim will reconsider it.
You also have the option to file another claim if you lose your appeal. If your condition has worsened, your chances of approval will increase.
Usually, it’s better to appeal than file a new claim because your chances for approval improve after a hearing.
Receiving Benefits During The Appeals Process
If the SSA decides to terminate your current benefits, there are circumstances that allow you to receive disability up until the ALJ decision. For example, if your condition improved or you’re no longer eligible, you may still receive benefits.