A person who disagrees with the Social Security Administration’s decision on his or her claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can file an appeal to have the agency review the case. Claimants requesting an appeal have a right to representation, so they can work with a long-term disability attorney to boost their chances of winning their appeals.

When to File an Appeal

Generally, a person should file his or her appeal within 60 days of receiving the notice of the SSA’s decision. The SSA assumes that a person will get the letter explaining its decision within five days of the date on the letter. A person who fails to appeal within the time limit may lose his or her right to appeal unless he or she can justify a reason for taking longer than the 60-day timeframe.

Where to File an Appeal

People can file their appeal request online and submit documents to support the appeal electronically. Even people who live outside the country can file an appeal request online. A person can also call the SSA toll-free number or his or her local Social Security office in Chicago to request the appeal forms.

Having a Representative File an Appeal

Claimants can choose someone, such as a long-term disability attorney, to help them with the appeal or represent them. The SSA will work with the representative just as it would work with the claimants. According to research, people with an attorney’s help are more likely to win their appeals than those who choose to represent themselves. Therefore, people can give themselves a better chance of getting the assistance they need by working with a disability attorney.

Levels of Appeal

SSDI cases have four appeal levels, namely:

  1. Reconsideration: When a person files for reconsideration, a complete review of his or her claim is made by someone who did not participate in making the first decision.
  2. Hearing: The hearing is conducted by an administrative law judge who did not participate in the first decision or reconsideration of a person’s case.
  3. Appeals Council review: People who disagree with the administrative law judge’s decision can have their case reviewed by the Social Security Appeals Council.
  4. Federal Court review: The last appeal level involves filing a lawsuit with the appropriate federal district court.

A person who is not satisfied with the determination made at a particular level can appeal the decision to the next level.