The 4 Levels of the Social Security Disability Appeal Process

If you’ve had your claim for Social Security disability benefits denied, don’t worry, it doesn’t mean there’s no chance of you receiving the benefits you deserve. However, you will have to appeal your case, which is why many work with a lawyer for Social Security disability appeals like the team from Second Chance Lawyer.

There are several steps to the appeal process that need to be followed precisely in order for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to consider your appeal. That’s why we’ve compiled them here for you, so there are no surprises once you begin filing your appeal.


  1. Filing a Request for Reconsideration

 After being denied Social Security benefits, you’ll first need to file your request for reconsideration. This is the step that starts the appeals process. In the simplest of terms, you’ll be asking the SSA to review your initial denial or the termination of your benefits and reconsider your eligibility.

This step is a complete reconsideration of the initial claim you filed and is overseen by the SSA’s Disability Determination Services (DDS) office. However, it’s performed by an SSA examiner and medical consultant who weren’t part of your initial claims process. DDS usually grants about 10-15% of all reconsideration claims, so getting your benefits could be as simple as filing your request for reconsideration and nothing more.

When your disability claim is denied, you’ll receive a notice that includes all the information you’ll need to file a request for reconsideration, in addition to important information about your medical condition. You’ll need to file your request for reconsideration with your local SSA office or by filing online at . After doing so, if your claim is denied again, you’ll receive a notice nearly identical to the first denial notice you received.


  1. Appealing Your Case & Having an Administrative Law Judge Hearing

 After being denied disability benefits twice, you can appeal your claim and request a hearing before an administrative law judge to determine the legitimacy of your denial. However, it’s important that you do so within 60 days of receiving your denial. Administrative Law Judges work for the SSA’s Office of Hearings Operations and they’re responsible for either overturning or upholding the initial decision made by the SSA about your disability claim. They’re also responsible for terminating disability benefits in some cases. Nearly 50% of claimants who reach this stage are often granted disability benefits, so there is a better chance that at this stage you’ll be granted the benefits you deserve.


  1. Appealing Your Administrative Law Judge’s Decision

 If your disability claim is denied by an administrative law judge, you’ll then need to take your case to the appeals council and request that they review your case. The SSA Appeals Council has the sole discretion of dismissing your request, denying it, or granting it as they see fit unless:

  • The Appeals Council finds that your case was denied without the support of substantial evidence.
  • There has been a procedural issue that occurred during the processing of your case (i.e. – you weren’t notified that you needed to be present for your hearing).
  • The Appeals Council finds that there’s been an abuse of discretion regarding your hearing, such as not being able to cross-examine a witness or your hearing being cut short by an administrative law judge.

When reviewing your case, the Appeals Council is almost always looking for an issue involving the administrative law judge that was present at your hearing. The chances of you being granted disability benefits at this stage are quite slim. However, the Appeals Council may request that the administrative law judge that heard your case take another look at it.

This is the last step in the appeals process before taking your case before the federal government.


  1. Review by a Federal Court

 If you’ve exhausted all of the steps above and still believe you qualify for disability benefits, you’ll need to file a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court. At this stage, it’s important to have an experienced Social Security disability appeal lawyer to help you navigate the process. Suing the SSA for disability benefits can be a very time-consuming and, in some cases, expensive process, so it’s important to discuss your case with your lawyer to ensure you have the best chance possible of winning your case and having your claim approved.


Contact us for a lawyer for your Social Security disability appeal today!

 If you believe you’ve been wrongly denied Social Security disability benefits, contact Merryl Jones at Second Chance Lawyer online today or call (254) 776-9217 (Waco) or (254) 493-0345 (Temple) to begin the appeals process.

We can also help you file your disability claim and answer any questions you have, so don’t hesitate to get in touch!