There are four appellate levels of Social Security Disability review available when a claim is denied.
If you need help with a Social Security disability appeal, there are options available. With the expertise of an experienced Social Security disability lawyer, you have a better chance at winning your appeal and receiving the benefits to which you are due. Adhering to the requirements and deadlines related to each step of the appellate process is critical to ensure your case is given maximum consideration.
Four Levels of Review
There are four levels to a Social Security disability appeal, you should contact Edwards and Kautz immediately after being initially denied to set the process in motion. Your Social Security Disability lawyer will then help you in collecting all the records relevant to your appeal case. The different appellate levels are as follows:
- Level 1: Request for Reconsideration. After your initial denial, this appellate stage involves a different claim examiner reviewing your case with a medical consultant. The examiner may request documentation on any new treatments you have received. You may be sent for a consultative medical examination to assess your conditions. These appeals need to be filed within 60 days and rarely result in a reversed decision. The vast majority of reconsideration appeals are denied. However, the reconsideration stage is a necessary step in the process of winning your Social Security Disability appeal.
- Level 2: Administrative Law Judge. Once a reconsideration appeal is denied, you can request a reconsideration hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. The Administrative Law Judge was not involved in the initial decision and hearings are generally held within 75 miles of your home. The judge may ask for any new information or clarification on evidence that has been presented. The court will call witnesses for medical or vocational perspectives on your case. Your Social Security Disability lawyer has the right to question any witnesses during the hearing. Once your Request for Reconsideration is denied, it routinely takes 18 months before your Administrative Law Judge hearing. This is where most Social Security disability applications are approved.
- Level 3: Appeals Council. The Appeals Council process is designed to determine whether the Administrative Law Judge made an error in denying your claim. The Appeals Council has three options upon receipt of your request. It can affirm the Administrative Law Judge’s denial, send the case back to the Administrative Law Judge for additional review (which involves a new hearing), or issue a new decision and provide you with disability benefits. The Appeals Council process is a lengthy one, typically ranging from 12 to 18 months’ wait time for the Appeals Council to determine whether your case will be affirmed, remanded, or reversed.
- Level 4: Federal Court. If the Appeals Council rules against you, you have 60 days to file a civil complaint in the federal district court. This is the last level of the appeals process. This is a civil action filed in the United States District Court for the judicial district in which you live. There is considerable paperwork involved in a federal court complaint filing, including serving a summons, submitting a complaint about the case, and paying a filing fee.
If you have been denied and need assistance with your Social Security Disability appeal, contact Edwards & Kautz at 866.795.5087 to schedule a free legal consultation. The attorneys at Edwards & Kautz can help you get the benefits you deserve through the appeals process.