INITIAL FILING – You should make your initial application to Social Security as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, the backlog, especially once the case gets to an Administrative Law Judge, is enormous right now.
While the backlog differs from location to location, there are almost no locations that have less than a one year backlog from the point the appeal is taken to the hearing before the Judge. In some areas that backlog is approaching – and sometimes even over – two years. We urge you to file as soon as possible.
APPEAL – The next important deadline is the appeal. If your initial claim is denied (and most are), you’ll have only 65 days from the date of your decision letter, to file an appeal with Social Security. If you don’t file an appeal within 65 days, you give up your rights to the appeal process. Even worse, you’ll have to start the application process all over again. We strongly recommend you engage an attorney to help you file your appeal.
FEDERAL APPEAL – A Federal appeal is taken if both the Administrative Law Judge says no and the next level of Appeal to the Council refuses to review that unfavorable decision from that Administrative Law Judge. There’s very little leeway in terms of filing that federal appeal which must be done within 65 days from the date of the Appeal’s Council refusal(you are allowed 60 days and they assume that their appeal gets to you within 5 days).
In addition, the Federal Appeal takes the attorney some time so that if you receive an Appeals Council refusal to review an Administrative Law Judge decision, you should contact an attorney immediately. Not every case is taken to the Federal District Court, so often the attorney will need some significant time to review the case to determine whether the attorney believes that it can be brought successfully in the Federal Court.