The Social Security Administration grants a generous time period of 65 days to disability applicants in California who want to appeal their denials. People get 60 days from the date on their decision letter plus five days for mailing. The administration only grants appeals to applicants who missed their deadlines under limited circumstances, such as hospitalization or inability to understand the decision letter. A failure to receive a decision letter could also provide a valid excuse for missing the deadline.

A claims representative will review a late appeal and determine whether or not an applicant provided an acceptable excuse or good cause. When the reviewer deems the reason acceptable, the appeal can proceed. Otherwise, a person must initiate a new disability application.

This review process applies to both stages of an appeal, which are the reconsideration appeal and hearing in front of an administrative law judge. For applicants pursuing a hearing, the judge will ultimately decide if the reason for missing the deadline qualified as valid. A judge could potentially overrule the initial decision made by the claims representative and deny the application.

Someone pursuing Social Security Disability Insurance could enlist the services of an attorney familiar with the process. An attorney could prepare paperwork at any stage of an application or appeal and represent a client at a hearing as well. To strengthen the person’s case, an attorney could strive to meet medical requirements for disability by documenting medical records thoroughly. An attorney might support an applicant by scheduling the necessary medical and vocational evaluations. These services could reduce burdens on a person troubled by serious medical or mental health problems and improve the chances of successfully navigating the disability bureaucracy.