If the administrative law judge (ALJ) denied your claim for Social Security disability benefits at the conclusion of the Office of Disability Adjudications and Review hearing, or if your request for hearing was dismissed, you can move to the third stage of appeals. Ask for a review by Social Security’s Appeals Council – it’s the next step in the Social Security disability appeal process.
The Appeals Council Process
If you disagree with the judge’s decision and want to continue fighting for your benefits, you will need to request formally that the Council review the hearing decision. You can use form HA-520-U5, Request for Review of Hearing Decision/Order of an Administrative Law Judge. On the form, you’ll need to provide a brief, convincing reason why the Council should review your case.
It’s important to act swiftly because you have only 60 days after your received the hearing decision letter to file your request for a hearing review. If you miss the deadline, the Administration can deny your request for review, and you might be denied the right for any further review.
If Appeals Council reviews the hearing decision, it may decide the outcome of your case itself or send your case back to the ALJ for further review. You will receive a letter in the mail explaining the decision. The Council also has the right to deny your request for a hearing review. If you don’t agree with the Council’s decision or if it denies your request, you can move on to the next and final stage of appeals: filing a civil claim with the Federal District Court.
Taking Your Disability Claim to Federal Court
If your application for disability benefits is unsuccessful at the Appeals Council level, you have the right to file a lawsuit in Federal District Court. Nationwide, more than 18,000 cases go to Federal Court each year, according to the Social Security Administration.
Just as with all the other stages of appeals, your time to take action is limited. You have 60 days to file a lawsuit after you received your letter from the Appeals Council. There is a specific protocol for filing a civil action and detailed procedures that you must abide by to validate your suit. Be aware that both the Appeals Council stage and filing a suit in Federal District Court are complex processes. You will want a seasoned disability attorney to help you navigate the system and present your case effectively.
Free Consultation with a Disability Lawyer in Winston-Salem
Want to speak to a lawyer that specifically handles challenging Social Security disability claims? Call Patton Brown Law in Winston-Salem today for a free consultation at 855-860-2150 or contact us online.