If you do not meet the deadline for appealing a denial of your Social Security disability claim, you may ask that the Social Security Administration (SSA) extend the deadline by finding that there was good cause for missing the deadline. To do so, include with your appeal a detailed letter explaining why the request for review of the determination or decision was untimely. Depending on the circumstances, an affidavit from you may be necessary. If SSA finds “good cause” for the delay in appealing, it will extend the time limit. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.909(b), 404.933(c), 404.968(b).

POMS GN 03101.020 A.1. provides: “An individual from the component that has the authority to adjudicate the appeal being filed determines whether ‘good cause’ exists.” Thus, an administrative law judge (ALJ) will determine good cause if the Request for Hearing is late; the Appeals Council will determine good cause if the Request for Review of Hearing Decision is late. The Appeals Council will also determine the good cause to extend the deadline to file in federal court.

“Good cause” for missing a deadline for requesting a review is described in 20 C.F.R. § 404.911. According to that regulation, SSA will consider circumstances preventing a timely appeal, whether any SSA action misled the claimant and whether the claimant failed to understand the requirement of timely appeal. 20 C.F.R. § 404.911(a)(1)-(3). 20 C.F.R. § 404.911(a)(4) provides that SSA will consider:

Whether you had any physical, mental, educational, or linguistic limitations (including any lack of facility with the English language) which prevented you from filing a timely request or from understanding or knowing about the need to file a timely request for review.

Social Security Ruling 91-5p expands on 20 C.F.R. § 404.911(a)(4). The ruling provides that if a claimant had no one legally responsible for prosecuting the claim, “e.g., a parent of a claimant who is a minor, legal guardian, attorney, or other legal representatives,” and the claimant shows that mental incapacity prevented the claimant from timely appealing, “regardless of how much time has passed since the prior administrative action, the claimant can establish good cause for extending the deadline to request a review of that action.” According to the ruling, the evidence must show that the claimant lacked the mental capacity to understand the procedures for requesting a review. Reasonable doubt is to be resolved in favor of the claimant.

If you missed a deadline or are unsure if it is too late for an appeal, contact Hermann Law Group, PLLC at (914) 840-2029 for a consultation about your claim.