Steps to Request a Hearing for a Social Security Disability Claim
1. As soon as you receive your notice of denial, contact your local social security office and advise them that you wish to appeal the decision, meaning that you wish to request a disability hearing before an administrative law judge. Though your notice of denial will state that you have 60 days in which to file the appeal, don't wait a single day longer than you have to. Waiting will simply add more time to your case and will put more time between you and the receipt of your disability benefits.
2. If you have a disability lawyer, contact the lawyer as soon as you receive the notice of denial. You should also contact social security, as described in step 1, simply to let them know that you have formally requested an appeal (this is a way of covering your bases in the event that you decide to change attorneys, since social security will send you the appeal forms).
3. When you contact your disability lawyer, the lawyer or the lawyer's assistant may ask you to send in a copy of your notice of denial. Why may this be done? To verify the level at which your claim has been denied and to verify the date. If your attorney's office asks for a copy of the denial notice, send it in immediately. However, it would be best to send a copy and keep the original for your own records.
4. After you have informed the office of your disability attorney that you have been denied, and have been informed by the attorney's office that your appeal will be filed, make sure to follow up with either the attorney or the attorney's office sometime in the near future to verify...that the appeal has actually been submitted.
Unfortunately, it does happen now and then that an attorney with a large caseload and an overworked staff will end up missing a disability appeal deadline. This is never intentional, of course, and it tends to happen very infrequently, but don't let your case be part of this small percentage of cases. To avoid this type of scenario, contact your attorney's office to check the status of your appeal request. When should you do this? Two weeks after notifying your attorney's office of the denial should be good. Most attorneys will send a copy of the appeal paperwork to a claimant for their personal records. Therefore, if you have not received anything within two weeks, you may have to seriously wonder if the appeal has been sent in yet. Two weeks may not sound like a long time, but, as I said earlier, you want to minimize all processing time on your case. And, frankly, there is no good excuse for waiting this long to send in a disability appeal, no matter how busy the attorney's office may be.
5. After you receive some indication from your attorney that the appeal has been submitted, and, hopefully, have received your copies of the hearing request, make a followup call to the social security office. Why would you do this? Because, unfortunately, it is sometimes the case that a claimant or their attorney will send in an appeal and it will, somehow, slip through the cracks. I, myself, have found on a number of occasions that an appeal that was sent in to a social security office was either A) not logged in, B) was logged in but was never sent on to the actual hearing office that would handle the case, or C) was simply never received because it was lost in the mail. Shouldn't your disability attorney do these kinds of followups? Yes, and in most cases the office of your attorney will do a timely followup. However, it's always best to minimize the possibility of a "screw up" somewhere in the system. And, in all candor, calling social security to verify that your appeal request has been received will only take a few minutes (after you have finally gotten through on the phone line, of course).
What happens after you have requested a disability hearing and then had it verified that the hearing request was both submitted and received? At some point, you may receive a notice of acknowlegement from the social security office and/or the hearing office, informing you that they have received your hearing request. After that, however, you will be forced to endure what is ordinarily a very long wait to be scheduled for a disability hearing. During this time, of course, there will be little for either you or your attorney to do on your case. You should, though, continue to see your doctors and seek treatment (to strengthen your case). And if you are seen by a new treatment source, or undergo new testing, or receive a new diagnosis, immediately update your attorney with this information.
Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog
Appeals for Social Security Disability - Disability Appeals Process
Should You Appeal Your Social Security Disability Denial?
What to do after a Disability Claim is Denied
What are the chances of winning Social Security Disability or SSI on an appeal?
How do you file a Social Security Disability or SSI appeal?