The Social Security Disability claim process can be a long and complex undertaking. Most disability applicants must endure the disability appeal process in order to obtain the benefits they are entitled to. Part of this process involves filing timely appeals with the Social Security Administration (SSA). An applicant has 60 days from the date that they receive notice that they have been denied benefits to appeal the SSA’s decision to deny their benefits. If an appeal is not filed in a timely manner, that window of opportunity closes and the applicant must re-apply for benefits all over again. There are, however, circumstances in which it is acceptable for an applicant to file a late Social Security appeal. What does the SSA deem a reasonable cause for filing of a late disability appeal?
Whether or not the reason for your late appeal is deemed as good cause will depend on a number of factors including what the specific circumstances of the delay are and the stage of appeals that you are going through. For example, if you are in the hearing stage of appeal, the administrative law judge (ALJ) hearing your case will determine whether or not you have good cause for filing your appeal late. If you are appealing to the SSA’s Appeals Council, it is the council that will determine whether or not to accept your late appeal.
Physical limitations, medical complications and other issues can definitely interfere with an ability to file a timely disability appeal. The best course of action to take is to contact the SSA and request an extension whenever possible. When requesting an extension of your appeal timeline, you should provide any supporting documentation along with your request, such as medical records or written statements from your treating physicians. If you need more time to gather additional medical documentation, make sure you note this in your letter to the SSA.
If you cannot contact the SSA prior to the expiration of your appeal timeline, you can contact the SSA after the timeline has passed, explaining why the appeal deadline was missed and asking them to reconsider. Some examples of good reason for missing an appeal deadline may include serious illness, death in the immediate family or records being damaged by theft, fire or other natural disaster. Other unavoidable circumstances may also be considered when an extension of an appeal deadline is needed, but these extensions are granted on a case-by-case basis and you must contact the SSA and discuss your circumstances with a representative and find out what you have to do in order to have your appeal timeline reinstated.
While some disability applicants may be tempted to forego the appeal process and simply re-apply for disability benefits, hoping they will be approved the second time around, the truth is that most applicants who re-apply are denied benefits during the second application, resulting in even further delays in obtaining the Social Security Disability benefits that are needed to make ends meet.