What Happens If You Get Denied by the Appeals Council?

Question

I've requested a review by the Appeals Council on my disability claim, which the ALJ denied. If the Appeals Council denies my claim too, is there anything else I can do?

Answer

You have the following three options when your Social Security disability or SSI disability claim is denied by the Social Security Appeals Council.

  • Give up on your claim (not a good idea).
  • File a new claim (depending on the advice of your representative, this may or may not be a good idea).
  • File a civil action in U.S. federal district court.

It used to be that you could file a new claim and continue to pursue an appeal past the administrative law judge hearing, but you can no longer do this.

Relatively few Social Security appeals are filed in district court, but where the Social Security Administration (SSA) has made an error in a case, it can make sense to file. However, the SSA cannot help you preparing for an appeal to federal court, and suing in federal court is the one step in the Social Security disability process in which a non-attorney cannot participate. Only attorney representatives can file this type of appeal. In addition, a written "brief" needs to be filed with the court explaining why the SSA was wrong in denying you benefits.

How long does an appeal to federal district court take? As with every step in the disability appeal process, there is simply no way to know, since deadlines do not exist. However, in every case, the time required will be a number of months.

First, read up on appealing your disability case to federal court and then contact a disability lawyer if you're still not sure what to do.

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