If you've recently applied for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration  (SSA) and your application was rejected, you may be wondering about your next steps. While you may be tempted to file an appeal of this denial as quickly as possible, doing so could potentially impact your ability to eventually be approved, depending upon the circumstances of your claim. Read on to learn more about a how long it takes to appeal a denial of social security benefits and what additional steps you may want to take beforehand.

How much time do you have to appeal a denial of Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits? 

If you receive a letter informing you that your application has been denied, you can request that the application be reconsidered. To do this, you'll need to file this request with the SSA, in writing, within 65 days of the date of the denial letter. (The actual appeal period is 60 days, but the SSA gives an additional 5 days to compensate for the time it takes the letter to be delivered.) 

If your application is denied a second time, you'll need to request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). Unlike the reconsideration process, there is no strict deadline for requesting an appeal -- although if you wait years before appealing, you'll need to complete your application and provide supplementary documentation again. If the ALJ denies your claim, you can appeal to the Appeals Council and then to the federal district court.

When might you want to take additional steps to appeal your denial of benefits? 

If you feel your benefits were unfairly denied, you may want to apply for reconsideration immediately. However, in many cases, the denial could be due to a technical error in your application (for example, not attaching a physician's statement to document certain ailments). In situations like this, your reconsideration petition will also be denied for the same reasons.

It's often best to have an attorney, like those at the Law Offices Of Russell J. Goldsmith, review your claim (and denial letter) before you take any action to preserve your benefits. Although this process can take time, it's better to have a completed, satisfactory application ready to submit rather than to risk another rejection. And because you'll usually be able to receive retroactive benefits going back to your initial date of disability once your claim has been approved, you won't need to worry that each week that passes before your appeal is filed is a week of lost benefits.