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How Do I Appeal My Disability Benefits Denial in Federal Court?

By Michelle Shvarts
Principal Attorney

While many people may have their initial Social Security Disability benefits application denied, many more have success on appeal. There are several levels of appeals, including a request for reconsideration, a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, and a decision rendered by the Appeals Council. Should efforts prove fruitless on these appeals levels, then there is still the option of requesting a federal court review your application claim. How do you do this? We will talk more about that here.

How Do I Appeal My Disability Benefits Denial in Federal Court?

The federal court review process for a disability benefits denial can be a lengthy process and a complicated process at that, but it can be worth it if it ends up with you being granted disability benefits. To start the process, a claim must be filed in Federal District Court and the requisite filing fees will need to be paid. This needs to be done within 60 days from the date of your Appeals Council denial. Should you be unable to afford the filing fee, you may make a fee waiver request but will need to provide evidence to support why you are unable to afford it. Before you proceed in filing, however, you should make a concerted effort to evaluate whether your appeal has enough evidence of wrongdoing or a procedural error that occurred while your disability application was being processed.

You should have received a notice from the Appeals Council detailing what you should do if you decided to pursue an appeal at the federal court level. The included instructions will state that should you choose to pursue such a civil action, you are required to send copies of the complaint filed and the summons issued by the court to the Social Security Administration (SSA). 

The majority of the federal court appeal will be done via written correspondence. It is rare for a face-to-face hearing to occur in these cases. The copies must be sent via certified or registered mail to the SSA’s Office of the General Counsel. This level of a disability benefits denial appeal is different from other levels of the appeals process in that you will not need to concern yourself with submitting new evidence to be reviewed. The role of the court here is not to render a decision on whether or not you are disabled or whether or not you are unable to work. Instead, the court is tasked with determining whether there is an error in the procedure that would merit the reversal of the SSA denying your benefits claim.

The federal court will respond to your appeal in one of three ways. First, the court could send your case back to the SSA for more information and medical evidence. Second, the federal court could agree with the SSA in the denial of your disability benefits claim. Third, the court could reverse the decision to deny your disability benefits application. Should the court deny your claim, there will not be any other means of appealing the decision as this is the highest level of appealing a Social Security disability application denial.

Los Angeles Disability Attorney

Like the disability benefits and appeals process itself, a federal court review of your disability benefits denial can be both a lengthy and complex endeavor. Talk to the team at Disability Advocates about how we can help. 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.