Even when it seems like you’ve done everything correctly on your claim, you might still have to appeal an unfavorable decision. There are four levels of the appeal process that you might go through, but you need to completely understand the process so that you and one of our attorneys at Osterhout Berger Disability Law can make the best decisions about whether it’s in your best interest to appeal at a certain level or file a new claim.
The Four Levels of Appeal
There are four basic levels of appeal, including the request for consideration, administrative law judge hearing, Appeals Council, and federal court review. You must start with a request for consideration, and after each denial, you can move forward to the next level of appeal. You cannot skip a level, and they must be done in order until you’ve either achieved a favorable outcome or have exhausted all possibilities for an appeal or choose not to proceed with other levels of appeal.
While you can go forward with the different levels of appeal, most people only go through the first two levels because only a handful of people who reach the level of the Appeals Council will be selected to have their appeal reexamined.
During a request for consideration, someone who wasn’t a part of the original decision on your case will look at all of the information on your case, including anything new that has come up since you originally filed your claim. In theory, you could go through this process many times if you are denied at the claim level at this level of appeal and continually choose the start the claims process again.
If you don’t agree with the decision that was made at the request for consideration, you can as for an administrative law judge hearing. At this point, the ALJ will look at your claim more closely. The ALJ that looks at your case at this stage will be someone who wasn’t part of the decision on the initial claim or the request for consideration. You can give further information on your case, including any new tests, expert witness testimony, and any other new information that could affect the outcome of your case. You should know that if you go to the ALJ and are denied, you won’t be allowed to apply again.
The Appeals Council is the third possible step. You must be granted this process, and many people who apply for it don’t receive it. At this point, your case will either be reviewed by a different ALJ or by the Appeals Council.
The final potential way of appealing is to go before the federal court. While this stage might be intimidating, the federal district court looks at all of the cases that come before it seriously. If you’re denied your appeal at the Appeals Council, they’ll send out a letter on how to start the federal court process.
You May Want to File a New Claim
There are times when appealing a denied claim is the best course of action, such as when all information has been thoroughly documented and no new information will change your situation. For instance, if you and one of our attorneys at Osterhout Berger Disability Law believe that the administrative law judge made a mistake, this would be a good time to move forward with the appeals process.
There are, however, times when proceeding forward with an appeal isn’t the best option. If you know that there was information missing at the time of your claim hearing, this is a time when it might be best to start over with a new claim. For instance, if you chose to file a claim before consulting us at Osterhout Berger Disability Law and we found information that would have helped your case, it might be best to simply start the claims process again. Another time that you might choose to file a new claim rather than continue with the appeals process is if you’re at the administrative law judge hearing because you can’t file a new claim if you go through with this hearing and get another denial. Some people choose to file a new claim when their symptoms worsen or there’s new information available.
How We Can Help
There are several ways in which the team at Osterhout Berger Disability Law can help you receive the benefit you deserve. We help individuals who need to…
- Apply for Social Security Benefits and want to ensure everything is done right the first time
- Appeal a denial of Social Security Disability Benefits
- Appeal an existing denial of Long Term Disability (LTD) Benefits
If you are facing one of these situations, please do not hesitate in reaching out. Our team of experienced attorneys are here to help, and your consultation is free.