Appealing a Social Security Disability Decision
Most people are denied disability benefits on their initial application. However, the denial letter is only the beginning of an extensive process that protects individuals with disabilities.
At the Law Office of Judith Leland, our founding attorney has helped individuals weave through the Social Security appeals process for more than 30 years. Our California Social Security Disability attorneys are dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities receive Social Security benefits.
Stages of Social Security Disability Appeals
There are many stages of SSDI and SSI appeals, including:
- Reconsideration of your initial SSDI/SSI application
- Requesting a hearing with an administrative law judge (ALJ)
- Appealing the ALJ’s decision with Social Security’s Appeals Council
- Bringing an appeal in Federal District Court
If your initial application was denied, you can request reconsideration with the Social Security Administration (SSA). This must be done within 60 days of the denial letter.
Social Security may want to send you to consultative evaluations. We do not recommend attending these evaluations. If you receive a letter from the SSA advising you of an appointment, you should call our office immediately. Do not respond to that letter until you have spoken with an attorney.
In reconsideration, you are allowed to submit additional medical evidence. We will make sure you have the right kind of medical and other evidence to give a true picture of your condition.
The reconsideration process usually takes between two to four months. Unfortunately, most people are denied again.
Hearing Before an Administrative Law Judge
The next step is to request a hearing before an administrative law judge. It can take more than a year to get a hearing date. While we are waiting for the hearing, we will work to build your medical record and we will submit the additional evidence as soon as possible. If we have outstanding evidence of the disability, we can request a favorable decision on the record. If we are successful, it could save many months of waiting for a hearing.
Appealing an ALJ’s Decision
While we are successful in most of our cases, if we are not successful before the ALJ, there are several additional appeals available:
- Social Security Appeals Council: Following an unfavorable hearing decision, we can file a request for review with the Social Security Appeals Council, which is another administrative body within the SSA. Generally, if the Appeals Council finds there is error in the decision below (by the ALJ), it will return the case to the ALJ to conduct a new hearing and gather additional evidence. It is rare that the Appeals Council will issue a fully favorable decision on its own.
- U.S. District Court: If the appeal to the Appeals Council is unsuccessful, we can file a complaint in U.S. District Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals: We have also handled appeals before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Free Attorney Consultation – No Fees Unless We Win
To schedule an appointment with an experienced California Social Security Disability appeals lawyer, call or toll free at 1-866-764-0321, or fill out our simple contact form. There are no consultation fees and we charge no attorney’s fee unless we help you obtain benefits.