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How Long Do I Have to Appeal a Denial of Disability Benefits?

Posted on in Denied Social Security Benefits

IL disability attorneyIt is not uncommon for Social Security officials to initially deny your claim for disability benefits. Fortunately, you have certain appeal rights. In fact, there are four levels to the disability appeals process. First, you can ask for reconsideration. Second, you may request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). Third, you can seek review of the ALJ's decision with Social Security's Appeals Council. Finally, you can seek judicial review of a “final” decision to deny benefits in federal court.

Illinois Magistrate Dismisses Social Security Appeal Filed One Day Late

At each stage of the appeals process, there are strict deadlines that you are expected to understand and comply with. If you file an appeal even one day late, a court may refuse to hear your case, regardless of the underlying merits. So it is critical that you act promptly to address a negative decision from Social Security.

For example, in a February 2020 case, McGhee v. Commissioner of Social Security, an Illinois federal magistrate judge granted the government's motion to dismiss an appeal brought by an unsuccessful disability applicant. The applicant previously went through the first three stages of the appeals process described above. In November 2017, an ALJ rejected the applicant's claim. The applicant then sought review from the Appeals Council.

The Appeals Council denied review in a written letter dated April 16, 2019. This date is important. Under federal law, a disability applicant only has 60 days after a final decision is made by Social Security to seek judicial review in federal court. This 60-day clock starts to run “after the mailing” of the notice informing the applicant of Social Security's decision. However, Social Security has long interpreted this requirement to actually mean 60 days after the applicant receives the notice. By default, receipt is assumed to occur five days after the notice is mailed unless the applicant can make a “reasonable showing to the contrary.”

In the McGhee case, Social Security assumed that the applicant received its notice no later than April 21, 2019, five days after it was mailed. The applicant, therefore, had until June 20, 2019, to request judicial review. Unfortunately, he did not file his lawsuit until one day later, on June 21, 2019. The applicant argued he still filed on-time as his disability attorney did not actually receive the notice until April 22, 2019, which itself was one day later than Social Security regulations presumed.

The magistrate nevertheless ruled the applicant acted too late. He explained that the rule requires proof that the applicant himself received notice sometime after the five-day presumption. It was not enough to establish that his attorney received the notice on the sixth day.

Speak with a Chicago Social Security Disability Attorney Today

When it comes to dealing with Social Security – at all stages of the appeals process – time is never on your side. That is why you need to work with an experienced Illinois disability benefits lawyer who understands the rules and can help you follow them to the letter. Contact Pearson Disability Law, LLC, today at 312-999-0999 to schedule a free consultation.




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