If the Social Security Administration (SSA) has denied your application for benefits, you have a right to appeal within 60 days of the decision.

The appeals process has various steps you should be familiar with. Your appeal could fall under one or more of these scenarios:

  1. You can file online to have your case reconsidered. That involves a thorough review from an official who didn’t take part in the initial decision. The original evidence, as well as any new evidence, will be looked at. If your claim was denied for a nonmedical reason, such as your income, you would follow the same online process.
  2. A hearing before an administrative law judge. A judge who wasn’t a party to the original ruling can hear your case. The hearing can be done in person or via video, if it’s easier and closer for you. The video hearings are as official as an in-person hearing.
  3. Appeals Council review. The Appeals Council can deny a request for review if it thinks the initial decision was made properly. If the council agrees an appeal should be heard, it can proceed with the process or refer it back to an administrative law review.
  4. Federal court review. This is the final step in the process. If you don’t agree with the Appeals Council, or if the council declines to look at the case again, you can file a civil lawsuit in federal court.

This is a complex process, and it could help to walk the appeals path with a professional by your side. A consultation with an attorney is a good first step.

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