SSR 68-8: SECTION 205(b). -- TIME LIMITATION FOR FILING REQUEST FOR HEARING -- EXTENSION FOR GOOD CAUSE
20 CFR 404.918, 404.954(a)
- Under applicable regulations of the Social Security Administration a request for a hearing on a claim must be filed within 6 months of the date notice of the reconsidered determination is mailed to the claimant, except where the time is extended for good cause shown.
- Ten months after notice of the reconsidered determination denying his claim for benefits was mailed, the claimant requested an extension of time for filing a request for a hearing, alleging good cause for failure to file for a hearing within the prescribed 6-month period. The month after notice of the reconsidered determination was mailed, he traveled on a speaking engagement, thereafter was hospitalized for a back injury for 1 month, and upon discharge was bedridden at home for the next 5 months. Held, the claimant failed to show "good cause" for an extension of time, since there was nothing to prevent him from filing a request for a hearing during the first month following receipt of the reconsidered determination, and the existence of a physical impairment does not in itself constitute "good cause," since a request for hearing may be filed by mail.
R, a doctor of medicine, filed an application for old-age insurance benefits on June 24, 1960. His application was denied for lack of an insured status. Notice of this determination was mailed to R on January 18, 1961. On June 14, 1961, R requested reconsideration of this determination, but he was informed in a letter dated May 17, 1962, that upon reconsideration the denial of his application was affirmed. At the same time he was notified that if he wanted a hearing before a hearing examiner of the Social Security Administration, he must file a request for a hearing not later than 6 months from the date of the letter.
R did not file a request for a hearing until March 21, 1963, more than 10 months after the mailing date of the notice of reconsidered determination. With his request for a hearing, R submitted a statement in which he advanced his reasons for failure to file a request for a hearing within the 6-month time limitation: He stated that he injured a vertebra on June 10, 1962; that he postponed treatment of the injury because on the following June 18 he was to be speaker and honored guest of a national fraternity and recipient of its award. On June 21, 1962, R entered the hospital and was not discharged until July 18, 1962. Thereafter he was confined to his home, practically bedridden, until about December 18, 1962, when he was permitted to be up around the house with a back brace. He was again hospitalized from January 28 to February 4, 1963, this time for a cataract operation; following this operation, he was unable to read until March 14, 1963, when he received glasses. R concluded, "These disabilities, interruptions, and distractions were the reason for the delay in filing my request for a hearing * * *."
Section 205(b) of the Social Security Act provides in pertinent part that a request for a hearing "* * * must be filed within such period after [a reconsidered determination] as may be prescribed in regulations of the Secretary, except that the period so prescribed may not be less than 6 months after notice of such [reconsidered determination] is mailed to the individual making such request."
Section 404.918 of Social Security Administration Regulations No. 4 (20 CFR 404.918) states in pertinent part that the request for a hearing must be filed within 6 months after the date of mailing notice of the reconsidered determination except where the time is extended as provided in sections 404.612 and 404.954. Section 404.954(a) of Regulations No. 4 (20 CFR 404.954(a) provides, as pertinent here, that:
- Any party to a reconsidered determination * * * may petition for an extension of time for filing a request for hearing * * * although the time for filing such request * * * has passed. * * * The petition shall be in writing and shall state the reasons why the request * * * was not filed within the required time. For good cause shown, a hearing examiner or the Appeals Council, as the case may be, may extend the time for filing such request * * *.
The question presented in this case is whether R has shown "good cause" for extending the time period in which he might request a hearing.
The record in this case shows that R is a doctor of medicine, well educated, and able to read and interpret notices. Therefore, it must be presumed that he understood his obligations as explained in the notice of the reconsidered determination mailed to him on May 17, 1962. There was nothing to prevent R from filing a request for a hearing during the period of more than 30 days from the date he received the notice to the date he entered the hospital on June 18, 1962. While R has suffered serious impairments, the existence of a physical impairment is not in itself "good cause" for extension of the time period. Even during his hospitalization and while bedridden at home, R undoubtedly had access to a telephone or to persons who could act as his agents in carrying out his obligations, such as paying bills, answering correspondence, etc. It is not unreasonable to expect as much from him in his dealings with the Social Security Administration.
Accordingly, it is held that R has not shown "good cause" for extending the time for filing a request for a hearing, and therefore his request for a hearing filed on March 21, 1963, is dismissed.