When you apply for Social Security Disability, the wait for the agency’s decision on your application can seem like an eternity.
If you call Whittier, Ontario, Downey or North Hollywood home, you know our area of the country comes with extra financial pressures. When you have external stressors, a decision that denies your application may seem like the end of the road. But, if the agency determines you are not eligible, do you have options for an appeal?
The four levels of appeal
There are four levels of appeals in the Social Security Disability process: reconsideration, hearing by an administrative law judge, review by Appeals Council and lastly, Federal Court review.
A reconsideration involves a reconsideration of your application by an individual who did not participate in the initial review. If this process does not result in a determination in your favor, you may proceed to ask for a hearing, where an administrative law judge reviews your application and then decides.
The third and final administrative remedy for a denial is bringing your claim to the Appeals Council. The council can approve your application, deny it or return it to the administrative level.
The council can also elect to not hear your appeal. If that happens, or if you do not agree with the council’s decision, your final appeal is a civil lawsuit in federal court.
If you need assistance with an appeal or application
If these four levels of appeal seem confusing, you are not alone. Luckily, you can request help from a knowledgeable friend or attorney to help you at any stage of the appeal process or initial application.