You have very little time to file an appeal after the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies your application for disability benefits. Since the vast majority of applicants do not get an award of benefits on their initial application, most people have to go through the appeals process to get the benefits they deserve.

It can help to work with a Texas disability lawyer on your appeal. An attorney can help you navigate the appeal and answer your questions about things like how long you have to file an appeal after a denial or Social Security benefits.

The 60-Day Deadline

You have to file an appeal within 60 days of receiving the notice of the adverse decision to file for any kind of Social Security disability appeal. You cannot extend the time limit by leaving the envelope unopened because the SSA will assume that you received the letter within five dates after the date on the letter.

To overcome this assumption, you will have to prove that you got it at a later date. Proving when mail gets delivered can be difficult, so you should open any correspondence from the SSA right away and take action if you do not agree with the decision. You can appeal a denial or the amount of the benefit.

Missing the 60-day deadline can cost you the right ever to contest the SSA decision. You could be stuck with the adverse ruling permanently.

Some people file a new application instead of appealing the adverse ruling. Doing this could cause you to lose some benefits. Generally, an applicant needs new facts or issues to succeed on a new application.

The Four Stages of Appeals of Social Security Disability Decisions

You can appeal an adverse decision of an application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits up to four times, each to the next level.

The four stages of appeals when you disagree with the SSA’s decision on your request for disability benefits are:

  • Reconsideration. Someone at the SSA will perform a complete review of your application. This individual will not be anyone who took part in the initial decision.
  • Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). If you are not happy with the result of the reconsideration stage, you can request that an administrative law judge (ALJ) grant you a hearing. The ALJ will be someone who did not participate in either previous stage.
  • Request for review by the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council could agree to review the ALJ’s decision if you file a request, but they have the right to decline the review if they do not think the ALJ made a mistake.
  • Federal Court review. If the Appeals Council does not grant your request for a review, or they review your case and you disagree with the result of their review, you can then file a lawsuit in a federal district court.

You cannot skip any of these stages. You have to go through the appeals process in this order; in other words, you cannot file a lawsuit in federal court (the fourth stage) before exhausting the first three stages.

Appellate rules are strict and unforgiving. The SSA or federal court could throw out your appeal at any stage because of a procedural rule, even if you did not know about the rule. Working with a Texas disability lawyer can help you avoid this and many other problems. Contact us today.