For qualifying Americans with disabilities, the Social Security Administration (SSA) administers a program that offers financial support. Candidates that meet the requirements must have a medical condition that precludes them from working and, consequently, from earning enough money to support themselves while employed.
More than 70 percent of all disability applicants receive a Social Security disability denial letter because they do not meet the criteria established by the SSA. This means a majority of disability applicants have to file a disability appeal, with the first step in the appeals process being reconsideration of an original claim.
How Long Do I Have to File an Appeal?
Contact an attorney who specializes in handling disability claims to prepare to file your appeal for reconsideration. The SSA requires applicants to appeal a denied claim by the end of 60 days from the date when they received the letter denying their original claim. If you fail to file an appeal for reconsideration by the end of 60 days, you lose the right to try once again to receive financial assistance for living with a disability.
Do not file a new claim. Instead, file an appeal for reconsideration to increase your chances of getting approved for Social Security disability benefits.
Can You Get Denied at the Reconsideration Stage?
Unfortunately, the approval rate for an appeal of reconsideration is not much better than the approval rate of an original Social Security disability benefits claim. The primary reason for the low approval rate for reconsideration is that the first step of the appeals process follows the same procedure that is followed for filing an original claim. You submit the same evidence, as well as the same information you presented to the SSA on your original application. The only difference is a different team of medical examiners from the SSA reviews your appeal for reconsideration.
Other Stages of the Appeal Process
If the SSA denied your appeal for reconsideration, you have the right to file three additional appeals before you run out of opportunities to receive financial assistance for living with a disability. A hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) represents the second step after receiving a Social Security disability denial letter.
During an ALJ hearing, your disability attorney can submit additional evidence or clarify certain points made during the appeal for reconsideration. The ALJ asks questions to witnesses such as healthcare experts to determine your eligibility for financial assistance.
An appeal council review is the third step of the appeals process. The council either issues a decision or sends your claim back to an ALJ for more consideration. The final step of the appeal process involves a federal court review if an appeals council either decides not to review your claim or denies your appeal for financial assistance.
Get Help With Your Appeal
Because each case is unique, it is difficult to answer the question, “How long does a Social Security appeal take.” Start with the 60 days you have to file an appeal for reconsideration, and then add 100 days to get a reasonable amount of time to complete the first step of the appeals process.
Waiting to receive a decision from an ALJ can take a few months to more than one year. Add another six months to two years for an appeal council review and the wait time to learn about the fate of a disability application can take several years.
However, hiring a Social Security disability attorney might speed up the process. Your lawyer closely monitors the progress of the original claim, as well as the status of every step of the appeals process.