What if I lose my Social Security Disability Hearing?Posted April 2, 2015 by Premier Disability Services, LLC® Following a denial of a claimant’s initial application for benefits and their request for reconsideration, the next step is to file a request for a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge. The harsh reality is that the majority of claimants who file for Social Security Disability benefits will eventually be required to appear at a hearing. This is not necessarily a bad thing. A hearing will give the claimant a chance to finally appear in person in front of the ultimate decision maker for their claim. However, Administrative Law Judges are human and they sometimes make errors in their decisions. As a result, good cases can be denied.
Claimants must remember that there is another appeal level in the administrative process that they can pursue if their claim is denied following a hearing. If a claim is denied by a Judge, the claimant has the right to appeal to the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council is headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia. If you appeal your claim to the Appeals Council, one of the following actions will likely follow:
• Your request for review will be denied by the Appeals Council. This means that they will take no action on your claim. This is essentially another denial and the claimant will have 60 days to file an appeal in federal court.
• The Appeals Council will grant your request for review and overturn the Judge’s decision. If the Appeals Council takes this action the claimant is more than likely being awarded benefits.
•The Appeals Council will grant your request for review and remand the case back to the Administrative Law Judge. In this scenario, the Appeals Council will direct the Judge who decided your claim to conduct a new hearing with specific instructions regarding what needs to be considered.
The Appeals Council’s review process is unique from the other administrative levels because the consideration becomes less about whether a claimant is disabled and more about whether the Judge who decided the claim made any errors of law. In making the decision to appeal to the Appeals Council, a claimant must remember that the appeal process can take between 18-24 months. Considering the length of the process, claimants should take a long look at their individual circumstances and decide whether an appeal or a new application for benefits is more appropriate.
Hiring an experienced Representative early in the process of filing for benefits can help significantly in strengthening a claim. While a Representative cannot guarantee a claim will not reach the Appeals Council, working with a professional who is well versed in the Social Security Disability process can help build your claim throughout the process so that any potential appeal you file is well supported.
If you are filing a claim for benefits, or you have a claim pending, please contact our office for a free evaluation.
By: Devon Brady of Premier Disability Services, LLC®