If you do not agree with the decision or order of an administrative law judge (ALJ) on your disability claim, you may ask the Appeals Council to review the ALJ’s action. The Appeals Council is a branch of the Social Security Administration headquartered in Virginia, whose sole purpose is to review Social Security decisions. If your claim for benefits is denied following a disability hearing, the next step is to request that the Appeals Council review the judge’s decision.
You have 60 days from the date you received the judge’s decision to appeal, and the Social Security Administration estimates that you received your decision five days after it was mailed. In some cases, exceptions are made if there’s a good reason for the missed deadline. You must make your request for review in writing.
When the Appeals Council receives your request for review, it will decide whether or not to accept it. If, after reviewing the request, it concludes that the judge’s decision was correct, your request for review will be denied. In some cases, the Appeals Council determines that the judge’s decision was incorrect, and will reverse it. The Appeals Council also can decide to send your claim back for another disability hearing with the same judge. There are no hearings at the Appeals Council level. All correspondence, including their decision, will be in writing. Due to the high volume of Social Security claims, it can take several months, or even more than a year, for the Appeals Council to make a determination on a request for review.
Although you can request an Appeals Council review on your own, it is highly advisable that you be represented by a qualified disability representative. The majority of claims that are approved at the Appeals Council level are due to a technical or legal error made by the judge. A qualified representative who is familiar with the laws and regulations regarding the Social Security disability claims process can compose a brief or written argument to the Appeals Council, explaining exactly how the judge’s decision was wrong. He or she also can request a copy of the transcript of your disability hearing, and can carefully look for small procedural errors that could warrant an Appeals Council review of your claim.
Disability Specialists has a trusted team of attorneys that are highly trained in finding technical or legal errors made by the judge. Your representative and team of attorneys can help you determine if your claim should be forwarded to the Appeals Council. If it is determined that your claim should be appealed, our team will write a brief and submit it to the Appeals Council on your behalf.