Appealing Your Disability Case to the Social Security Administration

HOW MANY LEVELS OF APPEAL EXIST IN A SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY DETERMINATION

While highly unlikely, there could be a total of six appeals from an initial Social Security Disability denial. If you receive a denial from an initial claim for benefits, in 40 of the 50 United States, you would then file a Reconsideration, asking Social Security to take another look at your claim.

In 10 of the states, including Michigan, the Reconsideration level is eliminated, allowing you to file the next appeal called a Request for Hearing. A Request for Hearing allows you to present their claim in person to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). It is at this level of appeal where most claims are ultimately awarded. This fact makes sense because it is only in front of an Administrative Law Judge where the claimant and his/her attorney get the opportunity to personally meet with a decision-maker in person and explain why the disability standards are met.

The Administrative Law Judge holds hearings at local Offices of Adjudication and Review (ODAR). ODAR offices are located throughout the state. In Michigan, there are seven permanent ODAR locations: Detroit, Oak Park, Livonia, Flint, Lansing, Grand Rapids and Mount Pleasant. Additionally, there exist numerous satellite hearing offices that serve more rural areas. These include Fort Gratiot, Traverse City, Ludington, and others.

If the ALJ denies your claim, the next level of appeal is to file a Request for Review to the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council is located in Falls Church, Virginia. The Appeals Council does not give you a chance for another hearing. Instead, the Appeals Council reviews the ALJ’s decision and takes one of three actions: agree with the ALJ’s denial, overturn the ALJ’s decision and award benefits, or remand the case back to the ALJ for another hearing.

To appeal a denial from the Appeals Council, you must file a complaint with the United States federal district court in the region where you live. At this part of the appeals process, you must get help from a disability attorney.

When filing an appeal with the United Stated federal district court, you are arguing that there is an error of law in the original ALJ decision. If the federal court district court denies the claim, further appeals could be filed in the federal appeals court and, ultimately, to the Supreme Court. It would be unusual, however, for an individual claim for disability benefits to make it to the federal appeals court or Supreme Court. There would have to be a unique issue of the disability laws involved for an individual case to make it that high.

If you need help with appealing your Social Security Disability, call Levine Benjamin. From applying to appealing, at Levine Benjamin, we can help you every step of the way.