When you seek assistance from the Social Security Administration (SSA), it will make a decision on whether you’re eligible to receive that assistance. The SSA may also make decisions about any assistance you’re already receiving. If there’s ever a point where you disagree with one of these decisions, you can attempt to appeal it. To do that, you’ll use Social Security Form SSA-561-U2.
What Is Form SSA-561-U2?
Form SSA-561-U2 is a Social Security form that allows you to request the SSA to reconsider a wide range of decisions it may have made regarding your benefits. This might include:
- Appealing a denial of disability benefits
- Arguing for your eligibility for special veterans benefits
- Disputing a recalculation of your benefits
Note that you may also see this form referred to as simply form SSA-561.
Who Should Fill Out Form SSA-561-U2?
If you disagree with any action the SSA has taken regarding your benefits, you can fill out form SSA-561-U2 to ask them to reconsider. There are many circumstances where this could be the case.
For instance, the SSA may have denied your application for disability benefits. They may have decided to stop paying your special veterans benefits, or altered the amount. They may have issued a penalty to you for failing to report important information. It could even be that you received an overpayment of benefits due to an error and you don’t think you should have to give the extra money back.
The SSA lists the actions that could warrant the use of form SSA-561-U2 right on the form. However, even this list isn’t fully exhaustive. The only decision you shouldn’t use the form to appeal is if the SSA stops your disability check for medical reasons, or because you’re no longer blind. In that case, you’ll need form SSA-789-U4.
If you are appealing a disability benefits decision, you’ll also need to fill out form SSA-3441. This form provides more information about your disability. Additionally, if your medical records will be a factor in the decision-making process (which is likely if you’re appealing a medical decision), then you’ll also need to fill out form SSA-827 to authorize the SSA to view your medical records.
How to Fill Out Form SSA-561-U2
If you choose to fill out the paper form, it can be downloaded from the “Appeal a Decision” page on the SSA website. You’ll need to provide your name, your Social Security Number (SSN), your claim number (if it differs from your SSN) and the decision or action that you wish to appeal. The only portion that’s less straightforward is where you list your reasons for disagreeing with the SSA’s decision. Some people choose to consult with a lawyer about this section, especially those who are appealing a disability benefits decision. Using a lawyer is by no means necessary, but it can be helpful in certain situations. A lawyer knows how to phrase your reasons in a way that maximizes your chances of a successful appeal.
Once you’ve expressed your reasons for disagreeing, you’ll just need to provide your contact information. If you’re using a representative, you’ll need to list his or her contact information as well, including a mailing address and telephone number.
If you’d like to file your appeal online instead of with the paper form, you can do so easily from that same page on the SSA website. Just choose whether you’re making a medical appeal or a non-medical one, then follow the on-screen prompts.
How to Appeal SSI and SVB Decisions
If you are appealing a decision regarding supplemental security income (SSI) or special veterans benefits (SVB), then you will need to follow additional instructions. You’ll need to choose if you want to pursue a case review, an informal conference or a formal conference. You indicate your choice by checking off a box on the form.
With a case review, you’ll provide any additional information you have, and the SSA will decide on your case again. This is basically akin to filling out your reasoning and sending in the form like normal.
An informal conference is where you can meet with someone and explain your reasoning in person and bring other people who can help explain your case for you. The only difference between a formal and informal conference is that for a formal conference, the SSA can force other people to attend the conference and help prove your case, even if they don’t want to.
For SVB issues, you can only choose a conference if the SSA is stopping or lowering your payment. For SSI cases, you can’t choose an informal conference if your case involves medical issues.
What Happens Next
When you’ve completed the form, you’ll need to send it to your local Social Security office. You can find your office on the SSA website. Note that some big cities like New York City and Philadelphia have separate offices for card-related matters; if this is the case for your city, the website will ask you if you’re looking for a card center or a standard office. Make sure you’re sending your form to a standard office.
Because different types of appeals will require different verification processes, there’s no standard time frame for when you’ll hear back.
Millions of people rely on benefits of some kind from the SSA. With such an enormous organization, errors are bound to occur. If you feel that your benefits or application for benefits have been subject to one of these errors, the SSA provides you an opportunity to make things right with form SSA-561-U2. Receiving benefits can make a huge difference in your finances. This is especially true if you’re dealing with medical expenses from old age or a disability. If you think there’s anything amiss with the SSA’s decision, it’s in your best interest to fill out the form and appeal the action.
Tips For Managing Your Finances
- A disability, whether short- or long-term, can force a huge adjustment in your lifestyle. Worrying about the financial aspects will only make it harder. An emergency fund can be a big help, so it’s a crucial aspect of your financial plan.
- While building up an emergency fund is a good idea for everyone, it’s easier said than done. How do you know when to add to your emergency fund and when to add to your retirement savings? SmartAsset’s retirement calculator can be a big help in calculating how much you should save for retirement each month.
- Whether you’re applying for Social Security benefits, dealing with a disability or just wondering how much you should contribute to your 401(k), talking with a financial advisor can help. SmartAsset’s free advisor matching tool uses a short survey to connect you with up to three qualified advisors in your area.
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