Appealing Your Disability Claim in Federal Court

By Michelle Shvarts
Principal Attorney

Many applications for Social Security disability benefits are initially denied. While some find more success at the varying levels of appeal available to claimants, it may still be a struggle to get your application approved. For instance, you may even need to take your appeal case before a Federal District Court if an administrative law judge denied your appeal. While most applicants cannot imagine this as a possibility, it is important to know that it is and to prepare yourself accordingly.

Understanding the Federal Court Appeal Process

So, the administrative law judge denied your appeal. Your request for an Appeals Council review of your application was rejected. What do you do now? Well, you may want to consider bringing your case to Federal District Court. It can be another chance to be awarded much-needed Social Security disability benefits. Here’s what will happen.

First, you will need to file a complaint with the Federal District Court. Essentially, the filing of the complaint is initiating a lawsuit against the Social Security Administration (SSA). The complaint will detail why you are appealing the SSA’s decision to deny your disability benefits. A copy of the complaint will be served on the SSA. In turn, the SSA will file an Answer to your complaint. The Answer will detail why the SSA believed that your application for disability benefits was denied and why that remains to be the right decision on your application.

You will not necessarily be required to appear in court. This is important to know as the prospect of appearing in federal court could be a source of great anxiety for some people. While you may not be required to appear in court, it is still a possibility as the Court may request an oral argument for your case. Regardless, you should know that the vast majority of the back and forth involved in your case will take place in written briefs that are submitted by you, or your attorney, and the attorney for the SSA.

If the Court requests an oral argument in your case, you, or your lawyer, and the lawyer for the SSA will bring your arguments before the Federal Judge in a closed door proceeding. Once all of the briefs have been submitted and oral arguments, if requested, have been heard, the judge will rule on your case. Be aware that this can take much longer than some would expect. In fact, it can take a year or more for a ruling in these cases to be handed down.

When ruling on your case, the federal judge has one of three options. The judge could affirm the SSA’s denial of your Social Security disability benefits application. The judge could reverse the SSA’s denial of your Social Security disability benefits application and grant you benefits. The judge could send your case back to the SSA to undergo further review.

Contact Our Social Security Disability Attorney Today

If you are in the throes of the disability benefits application process, do not lose hope. The team at Disability Advocates Group can assist you in your pursuit of disability benefits. Contact us today.

About the Author
Ms. Shvarts is the managing attorney for Disability Advocates Group. She opened Disability Advocates Group to assist individuals who became disabled and unable to work to obtain the benefits they need and deserve.  Ms. Shvarts and the rest of the team at Disability Advocates Group are dedicated to assisting individuals obtain Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.