What Happens During a Disability Appeal?

By Michelle Shvarts
Principal Attorney

You may have been denied eligibility for Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits. You may not agree with the amount of your SSDI benefits payment. You may have been overpaid in SSDI payments but contest the amount you need to pay back or whether you have to repay it at all. If any of these issues arise, you can access the Social Security Administration (SSA) appeals procedures. There are several levels of appeal. To start the initial appeal process, you must file a request for reconsideration.

The Disability Appeal

The first level of appeal in regards to SSDI benefits issues is reconsideration. You must request that the initial denial, or whatever issue you are seeking to appeal, be reviewed once again. This request must be submitted within 60 days of the date you receive written notice of the SSA’s initial determination. Disability Determination Services (DDS) is tasked with completely reviewing the claim submitted for reconsideration. DDS ends up granting benefits in approximately 5-10% of claims submitted for reconsideration. Should your request for reconsideration fail to result in a favorable decision, you may proceed with the next level of appeal.

The next level of appeal is requesting a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This request must be filed within 60 days of receiving your denial. Fill out Form HA-501: Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge or request a hearing in writing to the SSA. In addition to the form or written request, you must submit information about your claim. This includes providing written evidence and your objections to the issues. This must all be submitted no later than 5 business days prior to the scheduled hearing. While the hearing is informal, the audio is still recorded. ALJs are attorneys working for the SSA Office of Hearings Operations (OHO). About half of the claims that reach the ALJ hearing level of appeal end up winning.

If you are unhappy with the outcome of the ALJ hearing, you can take your appeal to the next level. This means submitting a request for the Appeals Council to review your case. The Appeals Council has the ability to grant or dismiss your request for review. 

If your request for an Appeals Council review is denied or if the Appeals Council issues an unfavorable decision in your case, you may continue the appeals process by filing a civil action with the U.S. District Court in your area. The civil action must be filed within 60 days of receiving notice of Appeals Council action.

Social Security Disability Attorney

Denial of SSDI benefits and other unfavorable decisions rendered by the SSA regarding your benefits is not the end of things. As you can see, you have multiple chances at an appeal. The dedicated SSDI counsel at Disability Advocates Group is here for you every step of the process. We are committed to pursuing your right to receiving SSDI 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.