How to Appeal a Denial of Social Security Benefits
If you are denied Social Security benefits, you have the right to challenge that decision (“appeal”).
How do I appeal?
The written decision you’re appealing has instructions on how to appeal. For Stages 1 – 3, you can also appeal online at https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/disability/appeal.html.
What are the stages of an appeal?
There are 4 possible stages in the appeal process.
Stage 1: Request for Reconsideration.
If your Social Security claim is denied, you have to file an appeal within 60 days . This is called a "Request for Reconsideration"
|After the Reconsideration, Social Security will mail you a decision. If they deny you again, you have 60 days to appeal that decision to an Administrative Law Judge (Stage 2).|
Stage 2: Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge.
If you disagree with the Reconsideration decision, you can ask for a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge.
|After the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge will mail you a decision. If the Judge denies you, you have 60 days to appeal that decision to the Appeal Council (Stage 3).|
Stage 3: Review by the Appeals Council.
If you disagree with the Administrative Law Judge's decision, you can ask for a Review by the Appeals Council.
|After their review, the Appeals Council will mail you a decision. If the Appeals Council denies you, you can file a lawsuit in federal court (Stage 4).|
Stage 4: Federal Court Review.
If you disagree with the Appeals Council's decision or the Appeals Council decides not to hear your case, you can file a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. There's a filing fee. If you can't pay it, ask for a fee waiver.
|The Federal Court will send you a decision.|
What if I miss a deadline to appeal?
If you miss an appeal deadline, the Social Security office will close your case. To try to re-open it, send in your appeal plus a written explanation of why you missed the deadline. Mail these two documents to your local Social Security office. You can find this address here. If Social Security thinks you have a good reason for missing the deadline, they may re-open your case.
Examples of good reasons: I never got the notice, I was sick, etc.
What if I have questions?
If you have any questions about your Social Security claim, you can find the contact information for your local Social Security office at https://www.ssa.gov/locator/.