1. Appeal the decision
If SSA denies your application for Social Security benefits or reduces or terminates your benefits, you can appeal the decision. If you decide to appeal, you have 65 days from the date on the decision notice from SSA to request that social security reconsider this decision. If you appeal an end or cut in Social Security benefits within 10 days, you may be able to keep your benefits during the appeal. If you miss the 10 day deadline, your benefits will stop or be reduced while your appeal is pending.
2. SSA reviews your claim
The SSA will then review your claim again. If you request it, you may get a personal conference with the SSA staff to try to resolve the matter.
Denied after reconsideration
If you are denied after reconsideration, you have 65 days from the date on the reconsideration decision to make a written request for a hearing. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will run the hearing.
If you lose the hearing, you can appeal again to the Social Security Appeals Council. You have 65 days from the date on the ALJ decision to make a written request for review by the Council.
If the Council refuses to review your case or decides against you, you have 60 days from the date of the Council's decision to appeal the case to the United States District Court.
Don't miss deadlines
Don't miss any of the deadlines in the appeal process. The SSA will consider your appeal only if you show that you had good cause for missing them. "Good cause" includes such things as serious illness which prevents you from attending to your business, a death in the family, a fire or other emergency which disrupts your home. It also includes situations where you do not understand or know about the need to file an appeal because of your physical or mental condition, or because of your inability to read or communicate.
If you realize you have missed an appeal deadline, you should file your appeal in writing as soon as possible and ask for an extension.
Bringing a representative to a Social Security appeal hearing
You may be represented by a lawyer, a paralegal, a friend or a relative in the appeal proceedings.
Only a lawyer can represent you in federal court.
To apply for benefits or to file an appeal, contact your local Social Security office, or call 800-772-1213 (toll free) or 800-325-0778 (TTY) nationwide for information and help.
More information on Social Security can be found on the SSA website.
Updated: January 2017