Most people in California who are no longer able to work due to a disability apply for Social Security benefits. However, many claims are denied after an initial application and reconsideration. Applicants have a limited amount of time to appeal a denial of a claim.

Disability applicants are allowed 60 days to appeal a denial and request an administrative hearing plus five days to account for time to mail paperwork. If an appeal is denied after a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ), applicants have the same amount of time to request a review by the appeals council. However, if the appeals council rejects the application, applicants may file an appeal in federal court.

A case can be dismissed if an applicant fails to file a request for an appeal on time. The Social Security Administration may accept a late appeal if the applicant can show a reasonable excuse for failing to complete the paperwork and send it to their local office within the time allowed. Claimants should be aware that even if a claims representative accepts a late appeal based on good cause for the delay, an administrative law judge may still deny the claim because the appeal was untimely.

The time requirements for requesting an appeal are usually construed strictly by ALJs. An attorney with experience handling Social Security disability cases may be able to help an applicant complete paperwork and meet all important deadlines if an appeal is necessary.

Many claims are not approved until they reach the administrative hearing level. An attorney may be able to help a claimant obtain a favorable decision by presenting the strongest facts of the case to an ALJ. Legal counsel could also assist someone who has missed the deadline for filing an appeal file a late request; although, it is best not to file a late appeal since many claims are denied based on untimeliness.