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What is good cause to miss a deadline for in a disability case?

Previous posts here have discussed several procedures involved with appealing decisions in cases involving Social Security Disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income, both through the administrative process and judicially. As readers in New Jersey may know, there are generally very strict deadlines on how long an applicant has to file a notice of appeal. However, in certain circumstances, the Social Security Administration will extend such deadlines in certain circumstances.

The Code of Federal Regulations contains the rules that federal agencies set out for themselves to carry out their functions under the law. Section 405.20 of the CFR covers how the SSA will determine if a request to extend the deadline to ask for a hearing or review of a case will be granted. This regulation lays out three basic reasons such a request may be considered. First, if the applicant was misled by SSA's action, a deadline might be extended. Also, such a request may be granted if an unexpected event beyond the applicant's control, or a physical, educational, mental or linguistic defect caused the applicant to miss the deadline.

The code gives some examples of circumstances that might warrant an extension, such as a serious illness that prevented an applicant from having anyone contact the SSA, or a death or serious illness in the person's immediate family that did the same. If the applicant didn't receive notice of a decision, or bad information was given to the applicant by SSA, or another government agency was notified but SSA did not receive such notification before the deadline, an extension might be granted. Further, destruction of important records, or the inability of the applicant to find certain information even with great effort, might be enough to get an extension.

It is important to remember that the above list is not exhaustive and other circumstances may also meet the "good cause" requirement. Such circumstances will likely have to be documented however, and missing a deadline, even if it is ultimately extended, will delay the receipt of benefits for anyone filing for Social Security Disability on the basis of injury.

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