Many people who apply for Social Security disability insurance do not expect that their claim will be denied, however this happens often. If benefits are denied, changed or less than the applicant is eligible to receive, he or she can appeal the decision through the Social Security Administration’s appeals process.
There are several steps in the appeals process. These include reconsideration, a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ), reviews by an appeals council and a federal court review. In every step of the process, it is important that applicants file for further review within 60 days. If the applicant files late, the appeal may be dismissed.
First, the applicant can make a request for reconsideration. In this step, Social Security reviews evidence contained in the initial application in addition to any new disability evidence that may be available. The review is completed by a person who was not involved in the original decision.
If the reconsideration is not approved, the applicant can request a hearing with an ALJ. The applicant will have an opportunity to present evidence they would like the ALJ to review and may also have experts provide information.
If the ALJ hearing is not successful, the next step is to have the decision reviewed by the appeals council. However, it may not always grant review if it believes the ALJ’s decision was correct. If the council does hear the case, it may either decide the issue itself or refer it back to the ALJ.
Finally, the last option is to challenge the decision by filing a civil lawsuit in federal court. The appeals process can be complex, but an experienced attorney can help.