Social Security Disability Appeals Process
If an individual disagrees with the decision of the Social Security Administration, an appeal can be taken. In the appeals process, all parts of the decision will be re-examined, including those parts that are favorable to the appellant. A written request for an appeal is required and it must be done within a specified time period. The individual may have a representative aid them in the appeals process. The representative will act on behalf of the individual, but is prohibited from collecting a fee for this service without first gaining permission from the Social Security Administration.
There are generally three levels of the appellate process. The first appellate hearing will be before an administrative law judge (ALJ). This initial hearing will focus on whether or not the individual is disabled, when such disability began, and whether it has ended. New information can be presented at the hearing, and the individual, his representative, or the ALJ can examine witnesses.
An appeal of the ALJ’s determination is taken to the Appeals Council. Though the Appeals Council reviews all appeal requests, it may deny an appeal if it finds the ALJ’s decision was correct. If the Appeals Council finds a review is warranted, it will either conduct the review itself or remand it to an ALJ for review. Finally, an individual whose appeal was denied by the Appeals Council, or who disagrees with its decision, may file a lawsuit in federal court.
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