I have been handling Social Security cases since 1986. At this point, I figured that I had seen every bizarre set of circumstances. But last week, I was amazed again by the employees of the Social Security Administration.
In our office, we check the status of every case once a month. We do this precisely to prevent a case from sitting for too long or getting lost in the system. So, my paralegal brought me a file because she called the District Office and was told that the Claimant had been denied more than 60 days ago and it was too late to file an appeal. My paralegal demanded that SSA fax a copy of the Denial Notice because we had never received it. Refusing to take no for an answer, she insisted that we see the proof.
The Social Security employee finally relented, although she hung up on my paralegal when she asked to speak to the SSA employee’s supervisor.
When we received the fax, we were shocked by what we saw. The Denial Notice was undated and specifically referred to a medical report dated February 7, 2013. Since the Claimant and his/her attorney have sixty days to file an appeal, how could the sixty days have expired, when the Denial referred to a document that was less than 60 days old? Wouldn’t the Denial Notice have to be written after the last report included in that decision? Fortunately, my paralegal saw this and knew from her experience that the SSA employee was not correct. If we do not receive the appropriate response, we know who to contact in Congress to protect our client’s rights.
But, we both wondered what would have happened if the Claimant was unrepresented. Would she have pursued this on appeal? Or, as is more likely, would she have given up on her claim or just filed a new claim and given up her right to benefits from the original claim? I often feel that Social Security claims are getting more difficult every day. This is a prime example. This is why you need an attorney to represent you.