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The Appeals Process

The SSD and SSI Appeals Process

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Simply put, we know the system, its rules and its pitfalls both inside and out. As a result, we believe that our firm is uniquely suited to help you succeed at any level of the disability claims process.

A Basic Overview of The Appeals Process is Below:

  • Request for reconsideration: In most states, when an initial application is denied, the first step in the appeals process is to file what is known as a Request for Reconsideration within 60 days. Essentially, this type of request asks the same state agency that denied your initial application to look at it again and reconsider their decision. Appeals at this stage are almost never successful.
  • The ALJ hearing: Some states (such as Pennsylvania, for example) skip the somewhat meaningless request for reconsideration level of the appeals process and begin at the ALJ hearing level instead. At any rate, this is the stage of the process where claimants often have their first real chance to win. At this state of the process, a formal hearing is held in front of an administrative law judge from SSA. Here, you will have the opportunity to have your claim reviewed by an independent judge and to provide testimony regarding your disability. Success at this level is very possible — even for claimants under the age of 50.
  • The Appeals Council: The next step in the process is to request review by SSA’s Appeals Council. At this level of the appeals process, the focus shifts to convincing the Council that some type of meaningful error was committed by the administrative law judge. Although the Appeals Council affirms the ALJ decision in most cases, they can decide cases themselves or send them back down to the ALJ level.
  • Federal Court Appeals: Federal court is the last level of the appeals process. If a case reaches this level, it will first be heard in federal district court. If an unfavorable ruling is made there, we can seek to have the case heard by a federal circuit court of appeals. Theoretically, appeals can also be made to the Supreme Court but for all intents and purposes, the circuit courts of appeal are the last real chance claimants have. That said, many cases that reach the federal courts are sent back down to be reconsidered at the ALJ level. That is especially true when you have highly experienced counsel representing you in court.
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