A controlling date is the official date used to determine when a period of entitlement to appeal or claim Social Security Disability Benefits ends. Generally speaking, the controlling date for the appeals process is the date in which your denial letter is sent to you. You have 65 days from the controlling date to appeal the Social Security Disability decision, including an allowance of five days for the mail system. In other words, your appeal needs to actually be received by the Social Security Administration within 65 days (so you need to mail it with time remaining).
For denied Social Security Disability claims, the controlling date is located in the upper right hand corner of your denial letter. It’s usually best to file your appeal immediately upon receipt of a denial of Social Security Disability Benefits. If you wait too long (more than 65 days past the controlling date), you will be required to explain why you were unable to file your appeal in the allotted time. Unless you had a physical or mental condition which kept you from filing your appeal on time, you can even be turned down for Social Security Disability Benefits for failing to file your appeal on time.
A controlling date is also used to determine widow/widower eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits. Generally speaking, the window’s spouse must have had a disability onset date at least five months prior to his or her death for the surviving spouse to qualify for survivor benefits. Even for Medicare only claims, the controlling date is set as the last day in which the disability could have been established without having an effect on eligibility.
Any time you are denied at any stage of the appeals and claims process, it’s important to keep track of the controlling date, as your window of opportunity for filing the various appeals will be based on it. The amount of time you have from the controlling date to file an appeal will be spelled out within the body of the letter of denial.