Social Security Disability Appeal

Most people who file for Social Security disability insurance benefits are initially denied and must appeal the decision of Social Security Administration.

It can be discouraging for a disabled person to receive a denial for their Social Security disability benefits claim; however, it is important to remember they can appeal their disability denial. The different levels of Social Security disability appeal process are explained in detail below.


The initial step of the social security appeal process is called the reconsideration stage. Those who wish to appeal their denied claim must initiate an appeal in writing within sixty days of denial. Once an appeal has been filed, an individual at the Social Security Administration will review the claimant’s exhibit file and make a new ruling.

Hearing with the Administrative Law Judge

The second step of the appeal process is called the hearing stage. Obviously, those seeking a hearing were denied their Social Security Disability Benefits on two levels - the initial application and the reconsideration. At the hearing, an administrative law judge conducts a hearing based on the materials in the claimant’s exhibit file.

Appeals Council Review

The Appeals Council review is the third step in the disability appeal process. Anyone who has been denied at the hearing level may move on to the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council may take one of the below actions.

  • They may look at all requests for review and immediately deny the claim again.
  • They may ask an administrative law judge (not the prior ALJ) to reconsider the merits of the case file.
  • They may approve the claim and reverse the previous ALJ's ruling.

Federal District Court

The final level of the appeals process is filing a suit in the federal district court. If a claimant is denied at this level they will be required to begin a new application process, or abort the notion altogether.