In Social Security Cases, Timing is Everything! Learn Why Here:

Published on: August 25, 2017

Timing is Everything in Social Security Cases

Due to the vast number of disability applications that are filed, it is important for applicants to adhere to the timelines that are set by the SSA for filing disability appeals. In fact, only about 36% of disability applications are approved by the SSA.

In order to improve the chances of getting your appeal reviewed favorably, you should be aware of the timelines that the SSA has put in place for every stage of the appeals process. In Social Security cases, an appeal that is submitted late could lead to the loss of benefits altogether and/or the need to submit a fresh application. Timing is everything, and this article will show you why.

Most Disability Appeals Need to be Submitted Within 60 Days

At each of the 4 levels of disability appeals, applicants are allowed to submit their appeal within 60 days of receiving a decision. The SSA normally allows an extra 5 days as a mail-in period.

For example, when you apply for benefits and receive a denial letter, you have 60 days total from the date of the letter to submit an appeal for reconsideration. You also have 60 days from the receipt of a reconsideration decision to submit an appeal to an administrative law judge. The same timeline proceeds across all levels of appeal up to the federal court.

Exceptions to the 60-day rule

There are a few exceptions that apply to the deadline of 60 days at each level of appeal. These exceptions include:

  • When your Benefits have been ceased

If you were previously receiving disability benefits and the SSA decides to terminate those benefits, you should be aware of a slightly different appeal timeline. In order to continue receiving your benefits during the appeals process, you should submit your appeal within 10 days of receiving your termination notice.

Because the appeal process for Social Security cases is usually very lengthy (it can easily last for over a year), applicants who have submitted an appeal within 10 days can continue to receive their much-needed benefits while the appeal is under review.

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If you miss the 10-day deadline, you still have the extended period of 60 days to submit an appeal. However, you will not receive benefits while the appeal is under review unless you have a good reason why you were not able to submit your appeal in time.

  • A remanded case by the Federal District Court

When you appeal SSA cases to the federal district court, the judge at the court can review your case and decide to send it back to the SSA for further review. The federal court may cite that the SSA did not consider a certain factor such as a doctor’s opinion or other symptoms that you may be facing.

If your case is remanded to the SSA by the federal court, they will conduct a second review of your case. However, they may still uphold their initial decision to deny you benefits. If this happens, you have the option of submitting an appeal to the appeals council within 30 days. You should, therefore, be aware of the shorter deadline when appealing a remanded case.

What Happens When you File a Late Appeal?

There could be valid reasons as to why you missed a deadline and filed an appeal late. The SSA is normally considerate of extenuating circumstances that may have caused you to file an appeal after the deadline. Some of these circumstances include:


  • If you were ill at the time you received your denial notice, and if the illness prevented you from submitting an appeal in time, the SSA will likely accept your appeal even if it is late.

Destroyed records

  • If important records regarding your social-security case were destroyed in a fire or some other type of accident, you can submit your appeal after the deadline.

Mental or physical limitations

  • Some applicants may face-mental and/or physical-limitations that make it challenging to submit an appeal within the required time-frame. The SSA will consider how these limitations prevented you from submitting a timely appeal.

Death within the immediate family

  • A death within your immediate family can prevent you from submitting a timely appeal due to the challenges you were going through during that period.

Incorrect information from the SSA

  • If you did not receive the correct information from the SSA (such as the right process to follow when filing an appeal or which level of appeal you should pursue), then you can submit your appeal after the deadline.

You did not receive the notice in time

  • Sometimes notices from the SSA do not arrive in time or do not arrive at all. The mail-system is not 100% error-proof, and-mistakes do occur.

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