If the Social Security Administration has made a determination about your benefits that you disagree with, you have the right to appeal. The process is the same whether you've filed for retirement benefits, disability or Supplemental Security Income. You can communicate with the agency by mail or phone or by visiting a nearby field office. Basic information about your appeal should be available as long as you can verify your identity.
The first appeal of a Social Security decision is a Request for Reconsideration. This is a one-page document you need to file within 60 days of the original decision. Social Security gives you five additional days for mailing. You can get the reconsideration filed immediately by visiting your local Social Security field office. The address is available on Social Security's website; you simply enter your zip code and the system returns the street address and phone number -- if one is available -- for the nearest office.
If you need to request the status of your appeal, call Social Security's toll-free number at 800-772-1213. The representative who answers should have the original filing date of the appeal, the type of appeal you filed and the current status. If the appeal has been decided, the rep will inform you of that fact but will not discuss the decision over the phone. Instead, you have to wait for a Notice of Determination or Notice of Decision that is mailed from the local field office.
You can appeal a decision online, but as of 2013, Social Security did not have an inquiry link set up for the status of that appeal. You can file an application for benefits online (for either retirement or disability) and get the status of that application, but for the status of an appeal, you have to call or visit. If you are waiting for a decision on a Request for Reconsideration, your file is with the state Disability Determination Service, which has a direct line of its own. If you call this number, you may be able to reach the adjudicator who is handling your appeal.
If Social Security has denied your Request for Reconsideration, you have the right to file a Request for Hearing -- again, within 60 days of the decision. For disability, retirement and SSI applications -- or for an appeal on a Medicare decision -- your file goes to an Office of Disability Adjudication and Review. The ODAR office will assign your case to an administrative law judge, and a hearing will be scheduled -- eventually. In the meantime, you can contact the ODAR office by phone and ask for the status, which is readily available to representatives who answer the phone. If you are denied at the hearing level, you have the right to an appeal to the Appeals Council in Falls Church, Virginia, which does not respond to requests for status. Instead, you must inquire at your local field office, through Social Security's general 800 number or through the ODAR office where the hearing was held.
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