If you are denied either Social Security disability benefits (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income disability benefits (SSI), you have the right to appeal. It is important to be aware that there are time deadlines you must meet in order to exercise your appeal rights. You should immediately consult with a disability attorney after getting your denial letter.
There are Five (5) levels of appeal. They are:
- Reconsideration. If your application for disability benefits is denied, you may appeal by filing a Request for Reconsideration. This review is by the Disability Determination Services in Raleigh. You do not meet with anyone during this appeal.
- Hearing. If your Request for Reconsideration is denied, you may appeal by filing a Request for Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge. You and your attorney will appear before the Judge and present evidence as to why you are disabled.
- Appeals Council. If the Judge denies your disability claim, you may appeal by filing a Request for Review by Social Security’s Appeals Council. You do not appear before the Appeals Council. Your attorney will send a legal argument to the Appeals Council which will review the entire record of your case. If the Appeals Council finds your claim has merit, it will order another Hearing be held. It is unusual for the Appeals Council to directly award disability benefits.
- Federal Court. If the Appeals Council’s upholds the Judge’s denial of your disability claim, you may appeal by filing a lawsuit in Federal District Court. You will not appear before the Court. Your attorney will submit a written argument on your behalf and the U.S. Attorney will submit a written argument on behalf of the Social Security Administration. The Judge will review the entire record of your case and make a decision.
- Court of Appeals. If the District Court upholds the denial of your disability claim, you may file an appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia. You will not appear before the Court of Appeals. Your attorney will submit a written argument on your behalf. If the Court of Appeals rules in your favor, it will order another Hearing to be held. It is unusual for the Court of Appeals to directly award disability benefits. If the Court of Appeals rules against you, this is normally the end of your case. Technically you have the right to file an appeal to the United States Supreme Court, but it is very rare for the Supreme Court to accept a disability appeal.