The Social Security Administration may cease benefits if it’s determined that you no longer qualify or if it’s found that you were overpaid. Upon the cessation of your benefits, you have the right to request a review of the decision. Check out the information below to help you prepare for the appeals process ahead.
The first step in the appeals process is known as a reconsideration determination. During the reconsideration, a new decision is made by someone that had no part in the first decision. You will be sent a letter that explains how the new decision was made.
If you do not agree with the decision that was made as a result of the reconsideration, you can request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
After benefits are denied at the initial and reconsideration levels, you or your representative can request a hearing before the ALJ. The ALJ will make an independent decision based on the evidence of your case. Hearings can be requested online or through a written letter. Requests must be written.
Once you receive the decision from the reconsideration determination, you have 60 days to file an appeal. If you do not file the appeal promptly, the ALJ can dismiss your case which means you may not be eligible for the next step in the appeals process. Appeals that are filed after the deadline must include the reason the request is late and indicate the need to extend the time limit.
Approximately 20 days before your hearing, you will receive a letter that identifies the date, time, and place of your hearing. The ALJ typically holds the hearing within 75 miles of your home, so it is unlikely that you will have to travel far. You do have the option to attend the hearing by video teleconference if needed. Notify the Social Security office if you prefer to participate via video instead of in-person.
During the hearing, the ALJ will hear your case and call any witnesses if applicable. After the hearing, the ALJ issues a written decision and sends a copy to you and your representative.
To streamline the hearing process, choose your representative as early in the process as possible. Make sure that all of the evidence that you want to be considered is up-to-date and that the appropriate officials have access to it. Try to avoid canceling your hearing if possible.