The appeals process for denied disability claims is complex. But that should not deter you from appealing a denial, because many cases are won on appeal. The appeals process does take place in stages, and at any point along the way your case may be approved. However, it can take a bit of time, but it is time well spent if the end result is that your claim is approved. While there is no way to give an exact timeframe for how long an appeal will take, there is some general information you will find helpful.
Because the appeals process can involve multiple steps, it is important to go over each step so you have a basic understanding of how the process works:
- Reconsideration: this is the first step in the appeals process, and your claim may be approved on reconsideration. Reconsideration must be requested within 60 days of your initial claim being denied, and because it can take 30 to 90 days (and in some cases up to 180 days) for an initial claim to be decided, reconsideration might not take place for close to a year after you file your claim.
- Appeal to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ): if you are denied at reconsideration your next step is to appeal to an ALJ. This is the part of the process where you get a hearing, and a chance to explain your condition with evidence. You must make this request within 60 days of being denied on reconsideration, but your hearing will probably not be scheduled for another 12 to 24 months. There is a considerable amount of cases in the appeals stage, so it does take a while to get a hearing date.
- Appeals Council Review: if you are not successful at appeal, you can ask for the Appeals Council to review your case. This can take another 12 months, or even a year and a half.
In an extreme case you may want to file a lawsuit regarding denial of your claim. This takes place in Federal Court, and happens after the above steps have been exhausted. For cases that are taken this far, it can be a few years before a final decision is made. We understand this timeline may sound intimidating, but keep in mind you can win at any stage along the way. The best way to get a faster result is to be prepared, and that includes having an attorney who knows how to help. We have the experience you need to get the results you deserve.
If you have questions about social security disability benefits, call us for help. We can be reached online or at 855-727-6353.