When you apply for disability, whether it’s by phone, online, or in person, your case will be sent to an adjudicator. This is essentially a claims adjuster for evaluation. They’ll request medical records and have them looked at by a medical consultant, after which they’ll make a decision. This process can take three to five months. With the decline in personnel at social security, we’re starting to see these initial application evaluations take four to five months. You’ll then get a form letter from social security boilerplate that has all these verbiages in it that says that we’ve evaluated your condition. We decided that you’re not disabled. If you want to appeal, you can do so and it talks about that a little bit.
The problem is it doesn’t give you a lot of information about how to appeal, what form to use, or exactly what to do. It also says you have 60 days from the date on this letter to file the appeal. That 60-day deadline is really important. If you get a denial notice on the 15th of the month, you have 60 days from the date you received that denial notice which could be five days in the mailing. You need to have it done within essentially 65 days.
As far as getting the forms, we have them in the office of course, but they don’t give you a copy of the forms when you get them, you get the denial notice online or in the mail. You need to go to the social security website if you don’t have an attorney and get the request for reconsideration if it’s a reconsideration, the first appeal and the reconsideration, the disability report and some medical releases. Again, it’s really unclear as to what you need. I will tell you though that in theory if you send a one-page letter saying, “I got my denial notice on such-and-such a date. I hereby appeal I am disabled,” that should be enough.
I also can tell you that there are times when our client comes to us very, very late. It’s literally the day, the 64th day and we don’t have time to mail anything or do it online. I have done this where I will fax an appeal letter, a two or three sentence appeal letter to the local social security office and say, “Please let this be our appeal.” That has worked. I wouldn’t rely on that but if you really find yourself in a pinch where you got to get something in, it’s better than nothing. If you have to fax it into social security or hand deliver it to social security, get it stamped, the key is to get proof that you delivered something to them that says the word “I appeal” on it. It can literally be two sentences or two words. I appeal at the denial and that should be enough but it’s really, really important to get that appeal in if it’s the first appeal, the reconsideration, to get that done. If it’s reconsideration, denial, you need to request a hearing and get that done.
If it’s appeal of an unfavorable hearing decision and appeal to the Appeals Council, all these things need to be done within 60 days. If you don’t do it within 60 days, then basically you are out of luck. You can ask social security to give you a waiver because of any number of reasons, but they can say no and you have really no appeal on that denial of waiver. You want to get it in as soon as you can. My feeling is if I get a denial notice on Tuesday, then by Wednesday, the appeal is filed. I don’t want to wait. I think that’s the way you should look at it as well. That’s what you need to know generally about appeals. Ideally, use their forms. Fill them out carefully and accurately. But if you don’t have time for that, one sentence, a two-word letter that’s faxed or hand delivered to them can be enough, not something to rely on but it can be enough. But that’s what you need to know generally about filing appeals for your social security denial.
It always helps to utilize the assistance of an appeals attorney to help walk you through the process.