Each year, millions of applicants file claims for Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration denies an overwhelming 70 percent of these claims. In order to obtain the benefits that these applicants may be rightfully entitled to, they must pursue the lengthy and complicated disability appeal process. Unfortunately, it is common for a Social Security Disability applicant to spend more than a year pursuing an appeal.
The good news is that two-thirds of appeals are won at the hearing stage of the Social Security Disability appeal process. What happens to the remaining one-third of Social Security Disability claims? Those applicants must file for an Appeals Council review in order to overturn the administrative law judge's decision to deny benefits. If your appeal was turned down at the hearing stage of the Social Security Disability appeal process, the following information can help you understand what is needed to file for an Appeals Council review.
Time is of the Essence
It is important to understand that there are time limits for filing for an Appeals Council review of your Social Security Disability case. If you wait too long, your right to a review may expire. You have sixty days from the date you receive the hearing decision to file an appeal for an Appeals Council review. The Social Security Administration assumes that you have received the notice five days from the date it was mailed, so make sure you pay close attention to the date of the mailing and count from that date rather than the date you actually receive the notice.
If, for some reason, you are unable to submit the request for a review within the 60-day allocated time period, you will need to prove that you have valid reason for not having done so. In some cases, you may be able to get an extension. Whether or not an extension is granted is at the discretion of the Social Security Administration.
Filing for the Appeals Council Review
When submitting a request for an Appeals Council review, you need to send the notice in writing to the Social Security Administration's Appeals Council or contact your local Social Security or hearing office. You can also call the SSA's toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213.
When requesting a review from the Appeals Council, you will need to fill out the request for review form. This is form HA-520-U5. Once this form is filled out, you need to mail it directly to the SSA's Appeals Council at Appeals Council, SSA/ODAR, 5107 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041. Make sure you send the request via registered or certified mail so that you have proof that your request was sent on time.
When you submit your Appeals Council Review request, also submit any additional evidence or comments that may support your Social Security Disability case. You might also want to request copies of the hearing recordings if you feel that your hearing wasn't handled properly and you want this considered when the Appeals Council reviews your Social Security Disability case.
If you do not already have a Social Security Disability attorney, now may be the time to hire one. It is possible that your Social Security Disability hearing was not handled properly if you did not have legal representation supporting you at your hearing. Retaining the services of a qualified Social Security Disability attorney may increase your chances of receiving a favorable decision from the SSA's Appeals Council. Your attorney can file the appropriate paperwork and will help you gather the necessary evidence to support your Social Security Disability case and will submit the evidence to the Appeals Council along with the request for your review.