People seeking Social Security Disability benefits will often have to appeal at least one denial before they qualify for benefits. To avoid starting over with a new claim, applicants must request an appeal within 60 days of receiving notice of the Social Security Administration’s decision. This is generally a strict deadline. However, the SSA recognizes some situations in which applicants may require additional time to make an appeal.
The SSA may extend the appeals deadline if an applicant has a compelling reason for missing it. The following four conditions are generally recognized as good cause for missing a filing deadline:
- Extenuating circumstances beyond the applicant’s control — These circumstances could include personal illness, accidental loss of relevant records, unavoidable delays in gathering evidence and death or illness in the applicant’s immediate family.
- Errors on the part of the SSA — Applicants are not penalized for misleading information or outright mistakes on the part of the SSA. For example, if the SSA sends the notice to the wrong address, the applicant may have valid reason for missing the deadline.
- Failure to understand the filing requirements — Late filing may be excusable if a claimant did not understand the appeal requirements due to personal limitations or confusing information from the SSA. For instance, if a claimant submits the appeal to the wrong government agency within the deadline, the SSA may accept the appeal.
- Inability to file on time for personal reasons — These could include mental, physical, linguistic or educational limitations the applicant may suffer from. These limitations could cause the applicant to misunderstand the filing requirements or fail to meet them for other reasons.
The SSA may also allow an extension if an applicant has requested additional information regarding the decision or appeals process. Military members and their families also qualify for extended time limits.
If an applicant has missed the appeal deadline, the applicant must file a request for reconsideration. The applicant also must provide a good cause statement, which is a written explanation of the applicant’s reason for missing the deadline. Whenever possible, applicants should provide documentation of the reasons for the delay. For instance, applicants could provide medical records to document a personal or family illness.
Working with an SSD lawyer is often advisable during the appeals process. For applicants who have missed filing deadlines, seeking representation may be especially important. This can reduce the risk that applicants will miss the opportunity to appeal and have to start the claim process over.