Has your application for Social Security been rejected? If so, you can file an appeal that asks Social Security to reevaluate your application and consider approving you again.
Appealing a rejection decision can give you the opportunity to receive your benefits.
During this process, you can monitor the status of your application and check in with Social Security to make sure they are reviewing your case in a timely manner.
This article will go over what is involved in the appeal process, how you apply for an appeal, and how you can check the status of your appeal.
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- What Is Involved In An Appeal
- Can I Apply Online Or Do I Need To Apply In-Person
- Do I Need A Social Security Lawyer For An Appeal
- Can I File A New Application Instead Of Appealing
- Will I Be Penalised For Filing An Appeal
- Do I have To Resubmit My Previous Application And Proof All Over Again
- What Application Do I Need To Fill Out For An Appeal
- Who Considers My Request For An Appeal
- How Long Does The Process Take
- What Are The Different Levels Of Appeals
- How Can I Check The Status Of My Appeal
- What Happens If My Appeal Is Decided In My Favor
- When Will I Receive My Benefits Payments
What Is Involved In An Appeal
If the Social Security Administration recently denied your application you have the option to appeal within 60 days of the decision.
You should have received a rejection letter that explains the reason(s) for your rejection. The letter should also include the steps you can take to request your application be reconsidered.
Filing for an appeal initiates a reconsideration of your application. If you were rejected because you did not provide the correct documentation or because you need to provide more proof you can submit these documents along with your request for an appeal.
There are stages to an appeal process. If you continue to e rejected then you escalate your appeal to the next stage.
During your appeal process, you could be required to submit new evidence, attend a hearing, testify, and/or provide witnesses. The things you are required to do can depend on what stage of appeal you are in.
Can I Apply Online Or Do I Need To Apply In-Person?
You can file for an appeal online in your Social Security account. You need to fill in your information and complete the appropriate form. In some cases, you can request an appeal in person at your local Social Security office.
To request an appeal or escalate your appeal to a different stage visit this link. You can fill out a request for the first 3 stages online. However, for the last stage, filing a Federal suit you need to fill out the required forms and mail them in. Your attorney could also fill out those forms for you.
Do I Need A Social Security Lawyer For An Appeal
For certain stages of the appeals process, you do not have to hire an attorney or have representation. Having representation can save you time and effort. You can choose a lawyer, someone with experience handling Social Security claims, or have Advanced Designation representation.
Hiring a Social Security attorney can greatly increase the chances of receiving a favorable decision. They can also advise you on the best course of action and review your case themself to understand and try to predict the decision you will receive.
For the last stage of appeals, filing for a Federal suit, you will probably need an attorney or representation to complete the process.
When you work with an attorney, they take over most of the communication on your behalf. They can send in documents, evidence, and forms for you. If you hire a representative they cannot charge you or collect a fee without getting written approval from the SSA first.
Some representatives do not charge fees or collect payment for their services. Usually, you would need special circumstances to qualify for free assistance.
If you would like help finding a representative you can contact the SSA to get assistance.
Once you select someone to represent you, you need to inform the SSA. You must send them a written statement to confirm you have a representative. You will need to fill out Form SSA-1696-U4 Appointment of Representative and send it to the SSA.
Can I File A New Application Instead Of Appealing
Yes, you have the right to file a completely new application instead of beginning the appeals process. Filing a new application could have consequences though.
You may lose some benefits or not qualify for any benefits. You could still be denied again and have any payments or benefits stopped. You cannot request that payments continue during the appeal of a new application. If you disagree with the SSA’s decision to stop benefits, you would still have to file an appeal of that decision.
Will I Be Penalised For Filing An Appeal
No, you are not penalized for filing an appeal or escalating your case. It is your right to disagree with the decision and request further consideration.
The only factors that will affect you when going through the appeal time could be your time and energy as well as the cost of hiring representation if you choose to do so.
If you file a lawsuit you will also have to cover the fees and costs involved.
Do I have To Resubmit My Previous Application And Proof All Over Again
You do not have to resubmit your previous application. The Social Security Office will have your previous application on file. Once you request a reconsideration or hearing all previous documents, applications, and information related to your case will be pulled up and provided for you and the committee that considers your case.
If you have new evidence or further documents to provide you will need to submit these or mail them to your local Social Security office.
What Application Do I Need To Fill Out For An Appeal
There are different appeal forms you may need to fill out depending on what benefits you were applying for.
For disability benefits decision appeal you would need to fill out Form SSA-561, HA-501, or HA520. Alternatively, you could send the SSA a written note including your SSN stating that you would like to appeal the decision of your case.
To submit an appeal for your retirement benefits decision you will need to complete the
To submit an appeal for a death benefits decision you will need to complete a
Who Considers My Request For An Appeal
The person or group responsible for considering your appeal will be different depending on what stage you are at in the appeals process.
If you have requested reconsideration then another SSA officer will be handling your appeal. If you apply for an Administrative Law Judge hearing then the Administrative Law Judge is responsible for considering your case and making a decision.
If you apply for the Appeals Council then the Appeals Council can assign someone directly or send your case back to the SSA for further consideration.
If you file a lawsuit against the SSA then a Judge will be the person responsible for considering your case.
How Long Does The Process Take
The length of the appeals process can depend on many factors such as how quickly you appeal, when you submit extra proof, when your committee, hearing, or court date is scheduled, and how long it takes to reach a decision.
A reconsideration appeal can take anywhere from 4-12 weeks.
For a request for an Administrative Law Judge Hearing, it can take between 16-20 months. To speed up the process you can hire or find a representative to assist in your application and contact the SSA for you.
An Appeal Council review can take up to 6 months.
A request for Federal Court Review can take anywhere from 6 months or more. At this point, the case is no longer in the SSA’s hands. It is up to the Federal Court to schedule your hearing and decide on the case.
What Are The Different Levels Of Appeals
There are multiple levels of appeal for you to go through. They include 4 different levels: reconsideration, hearing with an Administrative Law Judge,
The first level is Reconsideration. By requesting reconsideration your application will be reviewed again by someone who was not involved in your first application process.
You can choose to see the information include in your file before it is reconsidered. You do not have to meet with the officer to reconsider your case.
If you would like to meet the committee in person, you can attend a conference and explain why you disagree with the decision. You may also bring witnesses. If you have representation they may also attend the conference with you.
There are two types of conferences. Informal and formal, at n informal conference you may attend, bring your representative, bring witnesses, and provide further information. At a formal conference, you can attend with your representation, bring witnesses, and question them, You may also be questioned and the committee can request their own witnesses.
Once you request reconsideration, the SSA will go over all the information you submitted and your proof. If you have more documentation you can provide it for Social Security to look at then submit the documents during the reconsideration period.
Hearing By An Administrative Law Judge
The next stage is requesting a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge. If you still disagree with the decision made during the reconsideration then you can request an in-person hearing or in some cases an online hearing. A judge who had no part in your first application or reconsideration will oversee the hearing.
Once you submit a request for an Administrative Law Judge hearing you will be sent a package that gives more details about the hearing process. A form to opt out of video hearings will be included in the package. If you are fine with having a video hearing or an in-person hearing you do not need to complete that form and send it in.
If you choose to have your hearing over video conference your hearing could be sooner. This may be more convenient for you and this could help you to receive a decision sooner. If your earring will be over video conference you will be notified.
If you have more evidence and documents you would like to provide you will need to send them to a hearing office near you. You may be asked to clarify why you disagree and provide a further proof before attending your hearing. You can find the contact information at the top of any notices you receive from the hearing officer.
If you have chosen to hire an attorney or representative there could be different rules or policies when submitting evidence. Speak to your representative to learn more.
When Will My Hearing Be
Date and time will be chosen and a location will be provided that is convenient for you. Usually, you will receive notice of your hearing date at least 75 days prior. The hearing will be within 75 miles of your home. You can request accommodation and assistance attending your hearing.
However, if you do not need that much time you can waive the 75-day notice policy by filling out form HA-510 (Waiver of Timely Written Notice of Hearing. You will need to return that filled-out form to your assigned hearing office.
What If I Can’t Attend The Hearing
If you cannot attend your hearing you need to contact the hearing office ASAP. You will need to tell them why you cannot attend your hearing. They will also require that you send in a written statement as to why you cannot attend your hearing.
If you want to change your hearing date you must do so 30 days after your receive your hearing date or 5 days before your hearing date.
If you miss those deadlines it will be up to the judge’s discretion to reschedule your hearing. If the judge decides you do not have a good enough reason your hearing could be dismissed altogether.
If you do not want to attend the hearing in person you must fill out and submit an HA-4608 form Waiver of Your Right to Personal Appearance Before an Administrative Law Judge. The judge could still decide your presence is required. In this case, you must attend the hearing even if you previously filled out the HA-4608 form.
What Will Happen At My Hearing
During the hearing, the judge will discuss the issue with you and any other witnesses in attendance. You will be required to answer the judge’s questions. If the judge has requested a medical expert to attend you may have to answer the medical expert’s questions too.
Medical experts, vocational experts, or witnesses of any kind may be in attendance to question you or testify against you.
You are allowed to bring any witnesses you would like to testify on your behalf. These could include your doctor, medical experts, coworkers, family members, or friends. Anyone who can provide favorable information for your case can become a witness on your behalf.
What Will Happen After My Hearing
Once the hearing is finished, the judge will write a decision based on the answers you gave and the evidence presented. You will receive a copy of this written decision in the mail. If you disagree with this decision then you would move forward with the next appeals phase.
Request A Review By The Appeals Council
You have 60 days generally to apply for an appeal. If you decide to appeal the hearing decision you can request a review from the Appeals Council.
If you do not apply for an appeal on time, the Appeals Council may reject or dismiss your case. If you miss the deadline and are rejected for any further appeal you may lose the right to take any further action.
If you take longer than 60 days to submit your appeal you must provide the reason. You must have a valid reason with evidence to prove you were unable to submit your appeal within 60 days. You may need to file a written request to extend the appeal deadline.
This council will look over your case and consider the Administrative Law Judge’s decision. If the council agrees with the Administrative Law Judges’ decision the Appeals Counsel will deny your request for review.
If the council decides to review your case it will either return your case to an Administrative Law Judge to reconsider or the Appeals Council will review your case itself.
The Appeals Council will review all decisions, evidence, statements, and other relevant information to make a decision on your case. Once the Appeals Council has reached a decision you will receive a written copy of their decision.
If you receive a decision you do not agree with you can escalate the appeal process again.
Federal Court Review
The final stage would be to file a civil suit in a Federal district court. You have 60 days of your decision to file for a lawsuit. In this case, the SSA would collect all records, claims, applications, and statements regarding your case. There is a fee for filing a Federal suit.
The letter sent to you after your Appeals Council makes a decision will include directions on how to ask a court to look at your case.
At this stage, you would most likely need representation as well. Your attorney can discuss the details of filing for a Federal suit and the implications this stage has.
To take civil action you will need to file in your district court of the United States in the district where you are residing or your business is located.
If you do not have a business located in a specific judicial district or you do not live within a judicial district you will need to file a civil action with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
Once you file a civil action you must provide the SSA with a copy of the complaint you have filed and the court summons. Those documents should be sent through certified mail or registered mail. They should be sent to the Social Security Administration’s Office of the General Counsel which is responsible for the area where you have filed the complaint.
For more information on offices in your jurisdictional district click here.
To access the forms to apply for a Federal Court Review you can visit the link here or contact the toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). You could also request the forms from your local Social Security office.
What Can The Federal Cour Do To Help Me
When the Federal court hears your case it can decide to deny your request and uphold the SSA’s decision. The Federal court could decide to grant you SS benefits or the Federal Court could send your case back to the SSA for further review.
How Can I Check The Status Of My Appeal
To check the status of the first three appeals stages you can log into your my Social Security account and view your appeal application status.
Alternatively you cal call your local Social Security office to find out your appeal status. You can also call the Hearing Office to find out the status of your hearing. The contact information for your assigned hearing office can be found on any letters or notices you received from them.
To find out the status of a lawsuit you have filed you will need to speak to your representation or contact the district court that is handling the lawsuit.
Avoid Phone Scammers
Please be careful when taking ANY phone call about your Social Security benefits!!! Unfortunately, there are quite a few scams related to Social Security numbers. A Social Security officer will NEVER threaten you or say you will go to jail if you do not give them your personal information.
If you receive a phone call where someone says “there is a charge against you, you will go to jail if you do not pay money or give us your information” that is a scam! Hang up!
What Happens If My Appeal Is Decided In My Favor
If the appeal council, judge, or any other SSA officer involved decides that you qualify for your SSA benefits you may receive a “partially favorable” or “fully favorable” decision.
Partially Favorable Decision
A partially favorable decision means that you qualify for your benefits but some of the information provided was incorrect.
For example, if you applied for disability benefits and were initially denied. You appealed and were found partially favorable this could mean you qualify for disability benefits but you were not disabled on your alleged onset date.
If you get a partially favorable decision this means you most likely will not receive any back payments.
Can I Appeal A Partially Favorable Decision
Yes, you can go through an appeal for a partially favorable decision. If you would lose a significant amount of retroactive back pay then you might want to appeal a partially favorable decision.
It is advised that you consult with a Social Security attorney before filing an appeal. Consulting an expert can help you when appealing.
Fully Favorable Decision
A fully favorable decision means that the SSA or court says you fully qualify for the benefits you initially applied for and you should receive back pay from the date of application.
In this case, your benefits are approved and should be processed as they normally would. You should now begin to receive your monthly benefits.
Neither a partially favorable decision nor a fully favorable decision should lower your SS benefits amount. The only difference is the information provided and the date on which your benefits begin.
When Will I Recieve My Benefits Payments
Once your case is approved and you receive a favorable judgment the SSA will process your application and issue your benefits. In some cases you could qualify for back pay for the months you should have received a check.
You can receive a check for your benefits within 6-12 weeks.