If you have applied for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and have been denied initially and on reconsideration, you have the right to appeal that denial to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
Getting an ALJ Hearing
Typically, it will take up to two years to get a hearing with an ALJ. The ALJ might find you disabled and award benefits, or he or she might once again find that you are not disabled under the Social Security rules.
While there are many attorneys and representatives who take cases at the initial application, reconsideration and hearing stages, there are very few attorneys who will continue helping you with your case if it is denied by an ALJ.
After the Hearing: The Appeals Council
If an ALJ denies your claim for disability/SSI benefits, do not despair. It is still possible to win your case and eventually get benefits; however, it is going to take some more time.
The next step after an ALJ denies your claim is to file a Request for Review of that ALJ denial to the Social Security Appeals Council. This is done either in writing or online, and the appeals council will review the ALJ’s decision to look for legal errors.
Do not get your hopes up at this stage of the process, because the Appeals Council denies about 90 percent of the appeals at this stage. If you are one of the lucky ones, your case will be remanded to an ALJ for another hearing, at which time you will have a chance once again to present your case to an ALJ.
However, if the Appeals Council denies your case, which is the most likely result, you must decide whether you want to file a civil action in the US District Court where you reside. You actually have a better chance of success at the District Court level than at the Appeals Council level.
The Riverside Social Security Attorney Taking Your Case to the Next LevelIf an ALJ denies one of my clients’ cases, I will almost always appeal that case up to the US District Court, and quite often I will be able to get the case remanded to an ALJ for a new hearing and a new decision, which frequently is in my client’s favor.
If a claimant received an unfavorable decision from an ALJ and they were represented by another Riverside Social Security attorney at the hearing, I will consider taking the case and filing the appeals to both the Appeals Council and the US District Court. However, I must review the facts of the case and the ALJ’s decision before I will agree to represent that claimant.
If it appears to me that errors were made and the facts of the case were not properly considered, I will usually agree to help that claimant with their appeal.
As your local Riverside Social Security attorney, I’ll work with you to give your claim the very best chance of being approved, even when that means appealing an ALJ decision or filing a case in US District Court.