If you are denied benefits after a reconsideration of your denied disability claim (or after a review of your initial application, for states like New York that do not have the reconsideration step), you have the right to request a Social Security Disability appeal hearing.
There are three ways that you can apply to request a hearing in front of a judge:
Please note that you must request a hearing in writing in one of the above ways. While you may call your local Social Security office for assistance with requesting a hearing, a phone call alone is not sufficient to request a hearing.
Eligibility. You can request a hearing online by going to www.ssa.gov/disability/appeal if you meet all of the following four criteria:
Parts. There are two parts to the online request process.
Saving your work. You will have the ability to sign off of Social Security's website without losing the work you have already done. When you sign off you will be given a reentry number that will return you to your saved application when you sign back on to the website.
Information to have ready. Social Security recommends you gather the following information before you begin the online process, in order to insure that you can successfully complete the online forms:
Generally, the primary form you need to file to get a hearing date is Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge, Form HA-501. You should fill out this form and bring it or send it to your local Social Security office. (Here's a sample of a filled-out HA-501 form.)
This form has several purposes that will help kick off your appeal appropriately. In this form you can:
If you are not sure if this is the correct form to use for your situation, you can look at the denial letter that you received from Social Security for the specific form you need to submit. If the denial letter does not state which form to use or you are still unsure, you can call your local Social Security office or Social Security’s toll-free number at 800-772-1213.
With your request for a hearing form, or after you submit it, you will need to submit the following forms to Social Security:
Fill out and bring all of these forms or send them to your local Social Security office.
If you are unclear as to what forms to complete or how to fill out a form to file a request for hearing, you can send a letter to your local Social Security office requesting a hearing. Social Security will provide the necessary help for you to complete your request and all of the necessary forms listed above.
Importance of appeal deadline. If you do not request a hearing within the time frame noted below, you may permanently lose your ability to challenge the decision made in your case. You must file a request for a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ) within 60 days of receiving your decision letter from Social Security. Since Social Security allots 5 days for you to receive your decision letter in the mail, you technically have 65 days from the date on the decision letter to request a hearing. If you fail to request a hearing by the deadline, you will have to start over at the beginning—that is, file a new application—unless you can demonstrate "good cause" (a valid reason) for requesting a hearing after the deadline has passed.
Late requests. If you have good cause for missing the filing date, Social Security may allow your request in after the deadline. A good excuse for missing the appeal deadline might be that you were in the hospital for a significant amount of time after receiving the decision letter. Other reasons falling under the good cause umbrella can include illness, comprehension problems due to mental infirmity, or other circumstances beyond an applicant's control. However, administrative law judges are not very lenient toward late requests for hearing appeals. If your disability appeal is not filed on time, it will most likely be dismissed.
Submitting new evidence. You should submit all new medical or other evidence within ten days of the date that you filed the request for a hearing. If you are not able to submit your new medical evidence within that time frame (for example, if you are waiting on medical records to arrive from a hospital stay), you may request an extension from the ALJ or the hearing office to submit the new evidence.
Hearing date. It can take anywhere from three months to two years to get a hearing date, depending how long the backlog is in your region. (Here are some ways to get a faster hearing.) Social Security is required to give you 75 days' notice of your hearing date; in other words, 75 days before your hearing, Social Security will send you a Notice of Hearing. At that point, you should start preparing for the hearing and submit up-to-date medical evidence (again) to the hearing office.
Keep meticulous records of all your doctor appointments, surgeries, therapy, medications, and diagnostic tests. When possible, get copies of all recent records so that you have as much updated medical history as possible for the judge to review. In addition, you may want to: