Appeal of Denied Social Security Benefits

While it is not impossible for a Social Security Disability (SSD) claim to be approved at the initial application, it is far more common for the claim to undergo a series of rejections before receiving final approval. Once the claimant receives written notification of denial of benefits, he or she has 60 days to request a hearing. If, at the disability hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) denies benefits, the applicant has another 60 days to request a review by the Social Security Administration’s Disability Appeals Council. Because the disability appeal relies on a strict understanding of administrative law and legal procedures, it is wise to proceed with representation from a qualified Social Security lawyer.

The Disability Appeal

The appeal of an ALJ decision is not based on the facts and evidence provided at the disability hearing, but rather on the appropriateness of the judge’s ruling in the case. Grounds for appeal include:

  • Technical errors made by the Administrative Law Judge, such as applying the wrong formula or law to determine disability as defined by the Social Security Administration
  • Substantive errors made by the ALJ, such as not examining medical evidence provided by the claimant
  • Judgment based on insufficient evidence to support the claim, meaning the evidence provided would not reasonably lead to the same decision by any other judge

After the SSA Disability Appeals Council examines the ruling of the Administrative Law Judge, it may reverse the judge’s decision and approve disability benefits; it may remand the case for further review by the same ALJ, with specific instructions to review the medical file; or it may uphold the ALJ decision to deny disability benefits.

If the Disability Appeals Council upholds the judgment of denied benefits, there is one final attempt at appeal. A claimant may appeal the decision in a United States District Court. Appealing in Federal court is an extremely complex process which should only be attempted with legal representation from an experienced disability lawyer.

Requests for Review and Appeal of Denied Benefits

If you receive notice that your claim for SSD benefits has been denied, do not give up. Many, if not most, claimants must undergo a long series of rejections and appeals before finally being granted disability benefits. To minimize your time in the disability process and to maximize your potential for early approval, contact a local Social Security disability attorney: