Navigating the appeals process with a Social Security attorney Joliet

Since Social Security Disability benefit recipients must meet such strict medical and financial criteria, many beneficiaries continue qualifying for benefits after initial claim approval. However, benefit loss is possible, as any Social Security attorney Joliet can confirm. During a Continuing Disability Review, a claims examiner may determine a condition is no longer disabling. If this happens, the beneficiary has a right to appeal the decision.

Appeals options

The Social Security Administration establishes four levels of appeal. Reconsideration by a different claims examiner is the first level. If reconsideration is denied, an administrative law judge oversees a disability hearing involving testimony from the beneficiary and expert witnesses. The third level of appeal is review with the Appeals Council. If the Appeals Council denies the appeal or declines to review the case, the beneficiary can file a lawsuit in federal court.

Beneficiaries also can choose to file a new claim instead of appealing. However, the new claim may be denied based on the prior decision to terminate benefits. Starting a new claim could also result in delays. Still, if a disabling condition has changed significantly, beneficiaries may want to consult with a Social Security attorney in Joliet about filing a new claim.

Time limitations

The SSA gives beneficiaries 60 days to appeal a decision to stop benefits. Since the SSA assumes the denial letter takes five days to reach the beneficiary, beneficiaries have 65 days from the date on the letter to file the appeal.

If beneficiaries appeal within 10 days, they can request continued benefits through the hearing level of appeals. If the appeal is ultimately denied, a beneficiary may be responsible for paying back these overpayments. However, if beneficiaries cooperate during the appeals process and prove the benefits covered necessary living expenses, repayment may not be necessary.

Delayed appeals

The SSA may make an exception to both deadlines if an applicant shows good cause for extending the time limit to file an appeal. The following cases are examples of good cause:

  • Extenuating circumstances, such as personal illness or delays obtaining medical records, prevented a timely appeal.
  • The beneficiary suffered from physical, linguistic, educational or mental limitations that impeded his or her appeal.
  • The beneficiary made a good faith attempt to request information or appeal the decision.
  • The SSA made mistakes or took actions that confused the beneficiary, such as providing conflicting instructions.

Beneficiaries who have missed deadlines due to these factors should seek guidance from a Social Security attorney in Joliet. An attorney can help an applicant show good cause for a late appeal, reducing the risk that the applicant will need to start over with a new claim.