Social Security Administration Disability and filing a Civil Action

The Social Security Administration decision making process can be complicated and time-consuming. If your Social Security disability case has either been denied at the Appeals Council level or if the Appeals Council chose not to review your Social Security disability case it means that you have been fighting for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits for many months or years.

Do you have any other options? Should you file your Social Security disability claim again or should you move forward with a civil action in federal district court. Filing a civil claim is not considered part of the Social Security Administration appeals process, but it will be the last level to appeal your Social Security disability decision.

How long do I have to file a civil action in U.S. District Court?

There is a statute of limitations for filing your case. All civil actions must be filed within 60 days from the date you receive the notifications of the Appeals Council decision. All requests must be filed in the court that serves your judicial district. You will be required to pay a filing fee. Claimants who cannot afford the fee may be able to request that the fee is waived.

After the action has been filed in the appropriate court you must send the Social Security Administration Office of General Counsel copies of the complaint that was filed and the summons issued by the court.  All information sent to the Social Security Administration should be copied and sent certified mail.

Will a Disability Lawyer take my disability case?

If you have not contacted a disability lawyer prior to this point, now is the time. Many claimants complain that they have difficulty getting a disability lawyer to handle their claim at this level, especially if the attorney has not been involved with the case from the beginning. Hopefully, you have a disability lawyer who has been working with you from the beginning and is ready to help you at this stage of the process.

What if I miss the deadline to request a civil action for my disability case?

Many claimants want to know what their options are if they miss the deadline to file the civil action. The Social Security Administration does allow for extensions to the deadlines for filing cases at every state in the appeals process if a “good cause” exists, but the SSA has limited what they consider as a good cause to the following:

  • The claimant was seriously ill and could not contact the Social Security Administration.
  • There was a death or serious illness in the claimant’s family.
  • The claimant’s records were destroyed by fire or another cause.
  • The claimant’s representative requested additional information.
  • The claimant received incorrect information from a SSA representative and was mislead about their right to request additional appeals.
  • The claimant did not receive their notice of determination.
  • Request was made in good faith but it was filed to the wrong agency
  • The claimant thought their representative had filed the request
  • The claimant could not understand the requirements due to their physical or mental health conditions.
  • The claimant was attempting to gather evidence for their claim but could not complete the request prior to the deadline.
  • Other unavoidable circumstances made it impossible to file the request.


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Beth L. is a content writer for Disability Benefits Home. Good content and information is one of many methods we utilize to bring you the answers you need.

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