Appealing to the Social Security Appeals Council is the third level of appeal for disability claims.
The Social Security Administration reports that on average, this is how Appeals Councils decisions end up:
But don't let these figures discourage you from appealing your case. If your case is remanded, you have a good chance of eventually getting awarded partial or full benefits. Keep in mind that more time will have passed since the original ALJ decision, during which your condition may have deteriorated, and you can submit additional evidence at the remand hearing showing how your disability has worsened over time.
In addition, even if your review is denied, you can then take your case to the federal district court level where there is a greater likelihood of getting awarded disability benefits or receiving a remand.
The Appeals Council can also independently decide to review a favorable ALJ decision and then issue a new decision that is partially or fully unfavorable.
There are some common reasons why the Appeals Council would remand or award benefits in a case. These include situations where:
It's helpful to send a short statement along with your Request for Review that outlines why the ALJ committed any of the above errors in your case, referring to the ALJ hearing record whenever possible. To help you with this, request the exhibit file and a CD with the recording of the ALJ hearing.
Of course, it can be difficult to know when and how the ALJ made a legal error. An experienced disability attorney will know which errors the ALJ may have committed and what new evidence should be submitted to help your case, so you should consider hiring a lawyer to help you with this type of appeal.
Also, it's helpful to send the ALJs' written opinion to your doctor or psychiatrist so that he or she can comment specifically on the judge's findings; if your doctor disagrees with any of the ALJ's points, ask your doctor make some written comments on the opinion.