How Disability Appeals Work

If your claim for benefits is denied, usually, there are four levels of appeal. They are:

  1. Reconsideration;
  2. Hearing by an administrative law judge;
  3. Review by the Appeals Council; and
  4. Federal Court review.

When the Social Security Administration (SSA) send you a letter about a decision on your claim, they will tell you what to do to appeal their decision.

Reconsideration

A “reconsideration” is a complete and total review of your claim by someone who was not involved with the first decision. These people will look at all the medical and other evidence submitted before the original decision. They will also consider any new evidence.

Many reconsiderations involve a review of your files without the need for you to appear in person. However, when you appeal a decision that you are no longer eligible for disability benefits because your medical condition has improved you can appear in person. If you do, you will meet with a Social Security representative. This will give you an opportunity to explain why you think you still have a disability.

Having an experienced social security disability lawyer work with you to put together your reconsideration “package” can improve your chances of getting a good result out of the reconsideration. One of our experienced lawyers can make a huge difference in how your case comes out.

Call us at Carabin Shaw, we will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Call 1.800.862.1260.

An Appeal Hearing

Frequently you will disagree with the reconsideration decision. If you do, you may ask for an official hearing. The hearing will be conducted by an administrative law judge who had nothing to do with the original decision. The administrative law judge will also have had nothing to do with the reconsideration of your case. The hearing is usually held within 75 miles of your residence. The administrative law judge’s staff will tell you, in writing, the time and place of the hearing.

Before the hearing, they frequently ask you to provide more evidence. They may well also ask you to clarify or explain information about your claim. You may see all the information in your file. You may submit new information.

At the hearing, the administrative law judge will question you. He or she will also question any witnesses you may bring to the hearing. Other witnesses may also appear. People such as medical or vocational experts, also may give information at the hearing. You or your lawyer or other representative may ask the witnesses questions.

Sometimes, the hearing may be held by a video conference instead of in person. The Judge’s staff will let you know beforehand if this is will happen. With video hearings, things can be made more convenient for you. Frequently, an appearance by video hearing can be scheduled faster than an in-person hearing. Also, a video hearing location may be closer to your residence. This may make it easier for you to have witnesses or other people with you for the hearing.

It is usually better to attend the hearing (in person or video conference). You, your lawyer or other representative, if you have one, should come to the hearing and explain your case and the evidence to the Judge.

If you are unable to attend a hearing or do not wish to do so, you must explain why in writing as soon as possible. The administrative law judge may believe that your in person presence is necessary to decide your case. If they do, they can require you to attend, and you have to go. They may also be able to make other arrangements for you, such as changing the place or time of your hearing. You need to have a good reason to make other arrangements.

Having an experienced lawyer representing you at an administrative hearing can greatly improve your chances of success. It is almost always in your best interest to have a good lawyer with you who knows the system and the ins and outs of the hearing process.

Call us at Carabin Shaw, we will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Call 1.800.862.1260.

After the hearing, the administrative law judge will make a decision based on all the information in your case. This will include any new information you give at the hearing. They will send you a letter and a copy of the judge's decision.

If you lose, you are still not out of options.

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