If you file for Social Security disability or file an SSI disability claim, you should check its status at regular intervals. How often you should check may be dictated by what level your claim is at (the initial claim level, reconsideration appeal level, or disability hearing level) and whether or not you are represented by either a disability attorney or a non-attorney claimant's representative.
Why should you bother to check the status of your disability claim at all? The answer to this question is fairly simple, if not a little disturbing. I know from my work as a disability examiner that the Social Security Administration (SSA), in a percentage of cases, will either lose the paperwork that has been submitted by a disability applicant (for example, appeal paperwork) or fail to notify an applicant that his or her case has been denied.
Regarding the first problem, when appeal paperwork has been received and lost in a local Social Security office, an applicant's case will essentially grind to a halt. The case will not make the transition to the next step of the process and may cost the applicant months of valuable processing time. And it may result in a scenario where the applicant will be forced to file a new application (basically, starting from scratch) because the SSA says they have missed the appeal deadline, even if the missed deadline is the fault of the SSA.
Regarding the second problem, an applicant whose case has been denied will have a maximum of 65 days from the date of their denial to file an appeal (this includes the 60 days that are indicated on the denial notice plus an extra five days for mailing time). But, obviously, a timely appeal cannot be filed if you don't receive a notice of denial. This type of slipup occurs far more than most applicants would guess.
In either case, an applicant can avoid missing an important appeal deadline due to either of the above problems by simply checking the status of their case. In addition, even if no mistakes have been made on your case, calling to speak to your claims examiner at the DDS (Disability Determination Services, a state agency funded by the federal government) can help speed your case along -- if you are cordial when you speak to the examiner.
Find out more about how to check the status of your disability claim.
By: Tim Moore, former Social Security disability claims examiner