It’s hard not to feel defeated when you receive a notice from the Social Security Administration that your application for disability benefits has been denied. After waiting for an application for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income to be processed, you may be reluctant to wait even longer to appeal the determination.
The team at Liner Legal Disability Lawyers wants you to know that the appeal process gives you several opportunities to reverse an adverse decision and get you the disability benefits that you deserve. The following information gives you a better understanding of the four levels in the appeal process and how long could a disability appeal take at each level.
First And Foremost, Do Not Delay
When you receive a notice from the SSA about your claim for SSD benefits, contact Liner Legal Disability Lawyers right away. You have only 60 days from the date of receipt of a notice to appeal an adverse determination, but the time to appeal does not begin on the day you receive the notice.
If that does not make sense, it’s because the SSA uses the date printed on the notice to determine when you receive it. The date of receipt is five days from the notice date regardless of when it actually gets to you, so you may have less than 60 days if the notice was delayed in the mail.
The Disability Appeal Process
The Social Security disability appeal process has four stages or levels: Reconsideration, hearing with an administrative law judge, Appeals Council review, and filing a lawsuit in federal court. The first level of the appeal process assigns your claim to an examiner with the Disability Determination Services who was not involved in the original review of your claim.
The new examiner reviews the original file and may request additional medical records. Your disability lawyer may submit additional medical records or other evidence in support of the request for reconsideration.
A hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ) is the next step in the appeal process if the reconsideration request does not result in a favorable determination. The ALJ hears testimony from you and other witnesses, including a vocational expert, and reviews the medical and other evidence in support of the claim before a decision is made.
If you lose at the hearing level, you can request a review by the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council reviews your claim and decides whether to accept the appeal. A decision by the Appeals Council can decline to review the claim, grant the relief that you requested, or refer the case back to the hearing level for further action by an ALJ.
Average Time for A Disability Appeal
The Social Security Administration annually publishes reports about average processing times for each level in the appeal process. This allows people to get an idea of how long a disability appeal takes at each level.
According to the most recently published data, the following are average appeal times:
- Reconsideration: The average time for a determination at the reconsideration level was 147 days, but it could take longer depending upon how long it takes for your doctors to respond to requests for medical records made by the examiner or your lawyer.
- ALJ hearing: One of the factors that determine how long it takes for an appeal at the hearing level is the national hearing center assigned to the claim. The SSA reports that hearing centers around the country take anywhere from five months to 15 months to schedule a hearing. It takes additional time for the hearing and for the ALJ to issue a decision.
- Appeals Council: It generally takes about a year for the Appeals Council to decide on an appeal.
- Federal Court: An appeal from an adverse decision from the Appeals Council goes to federal court in the form of a lawsuit filed on your behalf against the SSA by Liner Legal Disability Lawyers. Federal district courts hear all types of cases, so the time it takes to file an appeal and receive a decision from the court varies.
The fact is that appeals take time, but they offer an opportunity to overturn a denial of your disability claim. The time it takes should not deter you from pursuing a claim for SSI benefits or other benefits available to you from the SSA.
Learn More About a Disability Appeal
Liner Legal Disability Lawyers takes pride in its commitment to aggressively fighting for the disability benefits that you are entitled to receive. Their knowledge and experience handling appeals for clients seeking SSDI benefits and other disability claims are unsurpassed. Learn more about how they can assist you with an application or appeal by contacting them today to schedule a free consultation. Get answers to your disability questions from a skilled and compassionate legal team.