Manring & Farrell

Levels in the SSD appeals process

Category: Appeals For SSD and SSI Cases



Levels in the SSD appeals process

Often, the key to obtaining Social Security Disability benefits in Ohio is tenacity. According to FindLaw, applicants are more likely than not to receive denials of their initial applications. Nevertheless, an applicant has the right to challenge a decision by the Social Security Administration that is not favorable.

There are four levels to the SSA's appeal process. The ultimate level is to file a lawsuit in federal court. However, the case may not ever get to that point. The chances for a successful appeal may increase upon further progression through the process. 

Reconsideration (first level)

An applicant with further information that clarifies the situation can submit it for reconsideration. At this level, the application will go to someone else at the SSA who will look at the new and old evidence with fresh eyes. However, denial at reconsideration is nearly as likely as a denial of the initial application. 

Administrative law judge hearing (second level)

Fortunately, the chances for a favorable decision improve significantly at an ALJ hearing. Not only will the judge consider all the evidence provided to support the claim, but applicants can also introduce witnesses to testify on their behalf. Applicants also have the right to legal representation at an ALJ hearing. 

It is often necessary for the applicant to appear in person before the judge at the hearing. However, it may be possible for a legal representative to appear in the applicant's stead. Video conferences are sometimes also available for the applicant's convenience. 

Appeals Council (third level)

If still dissatisfied with the judge's decision, the applicant can then request a review of the case by the SSA's Appeals Council. However, the Appeals Council is under no obligation to accept the request. Instead, it may refer the case back to an administrative law judge or just issue a denial of the request.

However, regardless of whether the Appeals Council reviews the case and issues a new decision, denies the request for review or refers the case back to a judge, the applicant will receive a letter advising him or her of the situation. After a denial of the request for review or an unfavorable decision by the Appeals Council, the only options remaining to the applicant are either to accept the decision or file a federal lawsuit. 


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