Once an initial Social Security Disability application or a request for request for reconsideration is denied, a claimant has 60 days to file an appeal. In the past, the claimant and his or her lawyer could simply file the appeal electronically using (SSA-i561 or SSA-i501) without the need to included any additional information. However now, pursuant to new rules, the appeal will not be accepted unless it is filed simultaneously with the "Disability Report" (SSA-i3441).
For a long time, attorneys had the practice of submitting the appeal (the Request for Reconsideration or Request for a Hearing Before and ALJ) within the 60 day period and then submitting the Disability Report later on. However, at a recent NOSSCR conference in Arlington, Virginia, ODAR Deputy Commissioner Glenn Skylar announced that a claimant's appeal will no longer be considered valid unless the Disability Report has been submitted. This new policy is more specifically described by the Social Security Administration in POMS GN 03101.125.
Another important development with respect to the electronic appeal process is that now claimants and their lawyers can upload documents as part of their appeal. Now lawyers can attach materials such as medical records, doctor's opinions or Appointment of Representative forms (SSA-1696).
This new policy has its advantages and drawbacks. On one hand, it prevents irresponsible social security lawyers from doing a quick appeal without doing any work. On the other hand, it can be very difficult for claimants who obtain legal representation just a few days before their sixty day deadline. In many cases, claimants who obtain a lawyer in the last minute are unable to remember details of their medical treatment and it can be very difficult to complete the Adult Disability Report.
It is important to point out that the requirement to file an appeal electronically applies only to to Requests for Reconsideration and Requests for a Hearing. Appeals to the Appeal Council must still be filed in paper.