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Social Security: Appeals


This article covers the Social Security appeals process which applies to each of the following Social Security programs which all have the same appeals procedures and regulations:

It is helpful to have an experienced attorney or social worker at least review what documents you file for the first level of appeal. For appeals to a higher level,  your chances of winning approval will be increased if an attorney represents you. In addition to knowing the law, experienced attorneys know the judges and the experts. They also know what people want to hear and the way they what to hear it. Free or low cost attorneys may be available. See: How To Afford A Lawyer (Or Get One For Free)

Time Period For Appeals

If your claim is denied, you will be notified by mail. You will have 60 days to appeal. Since Social Security assumes you get the denial five days after it was sent, you are actually allowed 65 days to file your request for a Reconsideration. However, it is advisable to stick to the 60 day deadline if at all possible.

If you can, appeal within 10 days and enclose more medical information. Your fast response may result in a review by an examiner at DDS. An examiner is likely to act more quickly than the next level of appeal, an Administrative Law Judge.

The Levels Of Appeals

Reconsideration is the first level of appeal in all states except 9 states: Alabama, Alaska, California (Los Angeles area), Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New York, and Pennsylvania. Those states have an alternative procedure known as "Disability Redesign Prototype." See Disability Redesign Prototype.

If your claim is denied at this level, you can appeal to an Administrative Law Judge, then to the Appeals Council, and finally to Federal Court. At every level, you have 60 days to appeal.

If all else fails, you can appeal to your Congressperson. Each Congressperson has a staff member whose job is to handle Social Security matters. It is not likely that a decision will be changed as a result of a congressional contact, but there is no way to predict the outcome.

Each appeal should be accompanied by an updated Medical Report and, if possible, new information that will help change the decision.

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